The annual bulletin Employment and Wages contains employment and wage data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program aggregated by industry at the national, state, and county levels.
This web-only publication, Employment and Wages Online, is the successor to the annual print bulletin, Employment and Wages. The 2008 issue of the Employment and Wages bulletin was the final edition to be issued on paper in March 2010.
The graphs that appeared in the print publication are no longer produced for the web-only publication. The newest improvement to the E&W comes in the form of interactive tables. The replacement tables include monthly employment and quarterly establishment and wage data for more series. The new tables include wage information for size data tables, which had not been available in the old tables. Questions regarding these data can be addressed to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program by calling (202) 691-6567 or by using any of the channels provided on the QCEW contact page.
The quarterly County Employment and Wages news releases produced by the QCEW program as well as PDFs of all 2018 QCEW news releases can be found at the QCEW news release archive. County Employment and Wages news releases present employment and wages by county and are released within 5 months after the end of each referenced quarter. With continuous process improvements, the QCEW is now on an accelerated schedule to release data earlier than in previous years. All data, at each level of geography, can be found at QCEW databases. All tables in this publication are available as PDFs on the above Web site. Questions regarding these data can be addressed to the QCEW program by calling (202) 691-6567 or by e-mail.
Business Employment Dynamics (BED) news releases present gross job gains and losses and are released approximately 7 months after the reference quarter. Questions about BED data can be directed to the information line at (202) 691-6467 or by e-mail.
Material in this publication is in the public domain and, with appropriate credit, may be reproduced without permission. This information is available to sensory-impaired individuals on request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1 (800) 877-8339.
The following members of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics prepared this publication under the Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, David M. Talan, Chief; Jennifer Cruz, Imani Drayton-Hill, Karina Galindo, Drake Gibson, David A. Ivory, Spencer A. Jobe, Keith G. Keel, Jay Miller, Masanori Shirako, Peter Smith, and Ric Wise of the Current Data Analysis Branch; David R. H. Hiles, Chief; Monique Ortiz, Akbar Sadeghi and Eric Simants of the State Operations and Frame Research Branch; Kevin Cooksey, Chief.
Data were prepared and processed by the following members of the Division of Business Establishment Systems (DBES), Mangala Kuppa, Chief; Raymond Brown, Noel Cox, Ali Latif, Reuel Paredes, William Plaskie, Carl Smahaj, Natasha Tsyryulnikova, Pat Walker, and Shane Warren of the DBES Procedures Branch, Kossivi Jean-Paul Bessou, Chief; Omar Bonilla, Margarita Gershkovich, Doug Hale, Andrea Jones, David Lambe, Hyunjoo Reed, and Davis Truong of the Database Systems Branch, Mike Dorsey, Chief; Zipora Abzug and Vladimir Kogan of the ES-202 Systems Branch, Pete Eldred and Wen Lou, Chiefs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) wishes to express its appreciation to U.S. employers for their continued cooperation in providing establishment-level data on the Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) form. This information for each business location is critical to the accurate distribution of employment and wage data to the appropriate geographical area and specific industry. If businesses did not provide this level of detail, the quality of the data would be adversely affected.
State workforce agencies that collect data from employers also play a primary role in this ongoing program. The efforts of staff at these agencies in verifying, editing, and supplying high-quality data to BLS are essential to the accuracy of this bulletin and are appreciated. We also would like to express our gratitude for the dedicated work of the BLS staff in the Electronic Data Interchange Center and in the regional offices for their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of data provided in this bulletin.
Data contained in this publication represent the complete and final count of employment and wages for workers covered by State Unemployment Insurance (UI) laws and the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program during 2018 for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Data are aggregated by geography at the county, metropolitan statistical area, combined statistical area, State, and national levels; by ownership under private industry or Federal, State, or Local government; and by industry as defined under the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). County, State, and National level aggregates appear in the tables in this publication. These data are the product of a Federal-State cooperative program, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), also referenced as ES-202. State workforce agencies compile the data for both private- and public-sector workers from reports filed by employers each quarter and report it to the BLS.
In 2018, BLS derived totals of 10.0 million establishments, 146.1 million employed, and $8.4 trillion in wages, from reports submitted to State workforce agencies by every employer covered by UI or by UCFE. Of these employers, those in private industry provided State workforce agencies with quarterly tax reports on monthly employment, quarterly total and taxable wages, and contributions for an average of 124.6 million wage and salary employees in approximately 9.7 million business establishments. Similar reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages were submitted by the Federal Government for 2.8 million civilian employees, by State governments for 4.6 million employees, and by Local governments for 14.2 million employees. UI-covered employment reported by these sources constituted a virtual census (97.0 percent) of employees on nonfarm payrolls. The principal exclusions from UI and UCFE coverage are cited in Characteristics and Uses of the Data, which follows this introduction. BLS presents data by ownership, industry, and State. These data include the average number of establishments, average annual employment, total wages, and annual and average weekly wages per employee. Additionally, the Bureau publishes national employment and wage totals for 11 supersectors, 20 sectors, and all 1,057 six-digit NAICS industries. County-level data include number of establishments, December employment, and average weekly wage. Private-sector data are presented by State, from the total private ownership level to the 6-digit NAICS industries. Private-sector data also are presented by national gross job gains and losses. State, local, and Federal Government data are detailed for selected industries.
QCEW data for 2017 forward are classified according to the NAICS 2017. For more information on the classification systems used by the QCEW program, please refer to the QCEW Industry Classification page.
*Please note: Public Administration is not included in the list above. There is no representation of private ownership in public administration by nature of the industry.
For measures of change over time, see Table 19. "One area, one industry, annually" on the QCEW Data Viewer.
Characteristics of the data
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled the data in this publication as part of the operations of its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. Data are derived from the quarterly tax reports submitted to State workforce agencies by employers, subject to State UI laws and from Federal agencies subject to the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. Each quarter, State agencies edit and process the data and send the information to the Bureau's national office in Washington, DC. The QCEW program provides the most complete set of monthly employment and quarterly wage data by 6-digit industry at the national, State, combined metropolitan statistical area, metropolitan statistical area, and county levels. Data have broad economic significance for the evaluation of labor market trends and major industry developments, for time-series analyses, and for interindustry comparisons.
Unemployment insurance laws and coverage
The employer reports that form the input to the QCEW are required by the Federal Unemployment Insurance Tax Act and its extensions. Initially, the Federal Unemployment Insurance Tax Act (1938) applied only to firms employing at least 8 persons for a minimum of 20 weeks in a calendar year and excluded certain categories of workers. Amendments to Title XV of the Social Security Act established the UCFE program, which extended coverage to Federal civilian employees effective January 1, 1955, and to workers in firms employing from four to seven workers effective January 1, 1956.
Federal legislation, effective January 1, 1972, extended coverage of State UI systems to firms employing one worker or more in 28 States and expanded some of the statutory coverage provisions. (The remaining States previously had extended coverage to these small employers.) The 1972 legislation also brought coverage to employees of State hospitals, colleges, and universities.
The Federal Unemployment Compensation Amendments of 1976 incorporated major changes in State UI laws effective January 1, 1978. Under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), States expanded coverage to include nearly all remaining State and local government employees, employees of nonprofit elementary and secondary schools, and certain domestic workers. Some States began implementing the amendments as early as 1976. The law also brought the U.S. Virgin Islands under the UI system.
The 1976 amendments covered agricultural labor if performed for an employer who, in any calendar quarter in the current or preceding calendar year, paid cash remuneration of $20,000 or more to individuals employed in agricultural labor. The 1976 amendments also apply to employers who, on each of some 20 days in 20 different weeks during the current or preceding calendar year, employed at least 10 individuals in agricultural labor.
Under a 1981 Supreme Court ruling, schools affiliated with religious organizations are not required to be covered under the UI system. Many of these schools, however, continue to cover their employees on a voluntary basis. Special provisions for railroad workers are made through the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. Data for workers covered under the Railroad Retirement Board and for those covered under the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemen (UCX) program are excluded from the tables in this publication.
In a number of States, certain types of nonprofit employers, such as religious organizations, are given a choice of coverage or exclusion. Under FUTA, all States must cover nonprofits that employ four or more workers. Some States have extended coverage to nonprofits employing one or more workers. Details on coverage laws are provided in Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws, available on request from the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, www.doleta.gov.
While coverage is largely consistent, comparisons of data from one State to another should take into consideration the differences in UI laws among States. In addition, when UI-covered private-industry employment data are compared directly with other employment series, the coverage exclusions should be taken into account. See Table A under Employment for details.
Employment and wage data developed in the QCEW program have been classified by industry since 1938. Data presented in this publication are classified in accordance with the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). It is the product of a cooperative effort on the part of the statistical agencies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
An industrial code, based on a description provided by the employer on a questionnaire, is assigned to each establishment by the State workforce agency. If a private or government employer conducts different activities at various establishments or installations, separate industrial codes are assigned, to the extent possible, to each establishment.
To ensure the highest possible quality of data, State workforce agencies verify and update, if necessary, the NAICS, location, and ownership classifications of virtually all establishments on a 3-year cycle. Information for government units in the public administration sector, however, is verified less frequently. Each year, changes in establishment classification codes resulting from the verification process are introduced with the data reported for the first quarter.
Beginning in 2017, QCEW data are classified under the NAICS 2017 system. For more information about the industrial classification system for a given reference period in QCEW, see the QCEW Industry page.
In general, QCEW monthly employment data represent the number of covered workers who worked during, or received pay for, the pay period that included the 12th day of the month. Virtually all workers are reported in the State in which their jobs are located.
Covered private-industry employment includes most corporate officials, executives, supervisory personnel, professionals, clerical workers, wage earners, piece-workers, and part-time workers. Persons on paid sick leave, paid holiday, paid vacation, and the like are also included. Persons on the payroll of more than one firm during the period are counted by each UI-subject employer, if they meet the employment definition noted previously. Workers are counted even though, in the latter months of the year, their wages may not be subject to UI tax.
It excludes proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid family members, and certain farm and domestic workers. The employment count also excludes workers who earned no wages during the entire applicable pay period because of work stoppages, temporary layoffs, illness, or unpaid vacations.
Employment at all Federal agencies for any given month is based on the number of persons who worked during, or received pay for, the pay period that included the 12th of the month. Employment data reported for Federal civilian employees are a byproduct of the operations of State workforce agencies in administering the provisions of Title XV of the Social Security Act, the UCFE program. Federal employment data are based on reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages submitted each quarter to State agencies for all Federal installations with employees covered by the Act, except for certain national security agencies, which are omitted for security reasons.
1These are out-of-scope groups, according to QCEW criteria.
Covered employers in most States report total compensation paid during the calendar quarter, regardless of when the services were performed. A few State laws, however, specify that wages be reported for, or be based on, the period during which services are performed, rather than for the period during which compensation is paid. Under most State laws or regulations, wages include bonuses, stock options, severance pay, the cash value of meals and lodging, tips and other gratuities, and, in some States' employer contributions to certain deferred compensation plans, such as 401(k) plans.
Total wages exclusions
Covered employer contributions for old-age, survivors, and disability insurance; health insurance; UI; workers' compensation; and private pension and welfare funds are not reported as wages. Employee contributions for the same purposes, however, as well as money withheld for income taxes, union dues, and so forth are reported, even though they are deducted from the worker's gross pay.
Average annual wages per employee for any given industry are computed by dividing total annual wages by annual average employment. A further division by 52 yields average weekly wages per employee. Annual pay data only approximate annual earnings, because an individual may not be employed by the same employer all year or may work for more than one employer at a time.
Average weekly or annual pay is affected by the ratio of full-time to part-time workers, as well as by the numbers of individuals in high- and low-paying occupations. When comparing average pay levels among States and industries, data users should take these factors into consideration. For example, industries characterized by high proportions of part-time workers will show average weekly wage levels appreciably less than the weekly pay levels of regular full-time employees in these industries. The opposite is true of industries with low proportions of part-time workers and of industries that typically schedule heavy weekend and overtime work. Average wage data also may be influenced by work stoppages, labor turnover, retroactive payments, seasonal factors, and bonus payments.
Establishments and employment size
An establishment is an economic unit, such as a farm, mine, factory, or store that produces goods or provides services. It is typically at a single physical location and engaged in one, or predominantly one, type of economic activity for which a single industrial classification may be applied. Occasionally, a single physical location encompasses two or more distinct and significant activities. Each activity is reported as a separate establishment, if separate records are kept, and the various activities are classified under different NAICS industries.
Most employers have only one establishment; thus, the establishment is the predominant reporting unit or statistical entity for reporting employment and wage data. Most employers who operate more than one establishment in a State file a Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) each quarter, in addition to their quarterly UI report. The MWR form is used to collect separate employment and wage data for each of the employer's establishments. Such data are not detailed on the UI report. Some employers with two or more very small establishments do not file an MWR. If the total employment in an employer's secondary establishments (all establishments other than the largest) is 10 or less, the employer generally files a consolidated report for all establishments. Also, some employers either cannot, or will not, report at the establishment level and, thus, aggregate establishments into one consolidated unit, or possibly several units, though not at the establishment level.
Before 1991, employers provided covered employment and wage data on a reporting unit basis. Reporting unit data typically furnished detail only for different county locations or industrial operations within a State. A nonstandard form, similar in concept to the MWR and called the Statistical Supplement, was used by States to collect these county industry data. Although reporting units were, for the most part, individual establishments, employers could provide a summary of their employment and wage data for multiple establishments within a county that were conducting the same type of industrial activity. For example, a fast-food business might have submitted a single report that covered all of its operations within a county prior to 1991; on the MWR, the employer reports employment and wage data for each location. The MWR substantially enhanced the accuracy of the QCEW data after 1991 and allowed the QCEW data to be a better sample frame for other programs.
For government, the reporting unit is the installation: a single location at which a department, agency, or other government body has civilian employees. Federal agencies follow slightly different criteria than do private employers, when breaking down their reports by installation. They are permitted to combine as a single statewide unit all installations with 10 or fewer workers, if those installations belong to the same subdepartmental unit. Reports from Cabinet-level departments are not aggregated to a department-wide level. Departments submit separate reports for each bureau or agency (terminology for subdepartmental units may differ) within a given department. Independent agencies report on an agency-wide basis. As a result of these reporting rules, the number of reporting units is always larger than the number of employers (or government agencies), but smaller than the number of actual establishments (or installations).
Data reported for the first quarter of the year were tabulated into size categories in Tables 3 and 4, ranging from worksites with few employees to those with 1,000 or more employees. The size category is determined by the establishment's March employment level. It is important to note that data for each establishment of a multi-establishment firm are tabulated separately into the appropriate size category. The total employment level of the reporting multi-establishment firm is not used in the size tabulation.
In accordance with BLS Confidentiality policy, data reported under a promise of confidentiality are not published in an identifiable way and are used only for specified statistical purposes. BLS withholds the publication of UI-covered employment and wage data for any industry level when necessary to protect the identity of cooperating employers. Totals at the industry level for the States and the Nation include the undisclosed data suppressed within the detailed tables. However, these totals do not reveal the suppressed data.
For more information about Confidentiality concepts, as it relates to QCEW data disclosure, please see this document about Confidentiality and Data Disclosure.
To reduce the effect of the exclusion of data because of late reporting by covered private and government employers, State agencies impute employment and wages for such employers and include them in each quarterly report. Corrections to data that may be entered after a report is filed include replacement of imputations with reported data to the extent possible. Imputations are calculated at the individual establishment level, normally from historical data reported by the employer. Sometimes trends reported by employers in the same industry and information obtained from other sources also are used. If a report remains delinquent for more than one quarter and research shows that it is still active, the data for the establishment will again be imputed.
Comparison of QCEW employment data with other series
The BLS publishes three different establishment-based employment measures for any given quarter. Each of these measures-the QCEW, BED, and CES-makes use of the quarterly UI employment reports in producing data. Each measure, however, has a somewhat different universe of coverage and estimation procedure, and each produces a different publication. Other data series are briefly covered here.
Business Employment Dynamics
Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data are a product of the QCEW program. BED data are compiled by BLS from existing quarterly State UI records. Most employers in the United States are required to file quarterly reports on the employment and wages of workers covered by UI laws and to pay quarterly UI taxes. Quarterly UI reports are sent by State workforce agencies to the Bureau and form the basis of the BLS establishment sampling frame. These reports also are used to produce quarterly QCEW data on total employment and wages and the longitudinal BED data on gross job gains and losses. Other important BLS uses of the UI reports are in the CES program.
In the BED program, the quarterly UI records are linked across quarters to provide a longitudinal history for each establishment. The linkage process allows the tracking of net employment changes at the establishment level, in turn allowing the estimation of jobs gained at opening and expanding establishments and of jobs lost at closing and contracting establishments.
Please see the BED section below for a more detailed description of BED data.
Current Employment Statistics
The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program is responsible for preparing current employment estimates for the States and for many metropolitan labor market areas, along with monthly employment estimates for the Nation. CES estimates of employment, average weekly and hourly earnings, and average weekly hours are derived from an employer survey of approximately 689,000 nonfarm establishments, selected primarily from the QCEW administrative records of UI-covered employers.
The national and state industry CES estimates are then benchmarked annually to QCEW employment data. Supplemental sources are used in benchmarking industries that have workers that are not covered. More information about the national benchmark process can be found at https://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cesbmart.htm, with state benchmark details available at https://www.bls.gov/sae/publications/benchmark-article/annual-benchmark-article.htm.
Current Population Survey
The Current Population Survey (CPS) is published monthly by BLS. CPS employment data are estimated from a survey of about 60,000 U.S. households, while QCEW employment data are summarized from quarterly reports submitted by 10.0 million U.S. establishments. CPS counts employed persons, whereas the QCEW program counts covered workers who earned wages during the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. Consequently, CPS includes persons 'with a job but not at work' who earn no wages, for example, workers on extended unpaid leaves of absence. QCEW data, by contrast, exclude unpaid workers. QCEW data count separately each job held by multiple jobholders. While CPS counts such workers once, in the job at which they worked the most hours, CPS does have some multiple jobholder data. CPS counts employed persons at their place of residence; the QCEW program counts jobs at the place of work. CPS also differs from the QCEW program, in that it includes self-employed persons; unpaid family workers employed 15 or more hours during the survey period; and a greater proportion of agricultural and domestic workers. CPS data exclude persons under age 16, while the QCEW program counts all covered workers, regardless of age.
Local Area Unemployment Statistics
The Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program is a hierarchy of non-survey methodologies designed to replicate the household-based concepts from the Current Population Survey (CPS) in order to produce monthly unemployment rate estimates for states and local areas. For each of the roughly 7,000 unique subnational areas, the LAUS program independently estimates employed people and unemployed people. These estimates are summed to derive civilian labor force, and then the unemployment rate is calculated as the percent unemployed of the civilian labor force.
The LAUS employment measure pertains to employed people by their place of residence. Employed people, in accordance with the CPS concept, are those who did any work at all for pay or profit during the survey reference week, including work in their own unincorporated business or on a farm. This is distinct from the QCEW employment measure, which pertains to counts of jobs subject to unemployment insurance laws by where these jobs are performed.
Another way to understand the scope difference between the LAUS and QCEW programs is through the framework of supply and demand. LAUS estimates relative slack in the supply of labor at the local level, and doing so requires measures of how many people are working versus not employed but actively seeking work. QCEW provides counts of the met demand for workers by establishments subject to unemployment insurance laws. For a given area, only if all working residents had one job at an establishment operating within that same area, with no workers at any of the establishments operating within that area commuting from outside of that area, would the LAUS and QCEW employment levels match. This would preclude self-employment, most agricultural work, multiple jobholding, telecommuting, and cross-border commutation.
Bureau of Economic Analysis
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Regional Income Division produces local personal income and employment estimates (along with regional GDP and other data) for counties, metropolitan statistical areas, and other local area aggregates. These data are available to search at https://apps.bea.gov/itable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=70&step=1. BEA regional data are based primarily on QCEW data, with other outside inputs for non-QCEW concepts used for a few industries. Regional data are produced using selected NAICS industries from 2001-forward, with selected Standard Industry Classification (SIC) industries used for data from 1969-2000. QCEW establishment counts, employment, and wages are produced for all NAICS industries at the national, state, county, and MSA-level detail back to 1990, with SIC industry data available from 1975-2000.
While BEA local area estimates include QCEW (data) for a large portion of their employment and compensation inputs, with reconciliation against QCEW data prior to publication, these BEA products include resources outside of QCEW, and are therefore not directly comparable to QCEW. More information about BEA regional data can be found at https://www.bea.gov/system/files/methodologies/LAPI2017_0.pdf.
Office of Personnel Management
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) publishes a statistical series on Federal employment and payrolls with information on employing agencies, types of positions and appointments, and characteristics of employees. Data on Federal employment covered by the UCFE series provide industry, local area, and monthly employment detail not available in the OPM series.
Both UCFE and OPM data exclude active duty members of the Armed Forces, temporary emergency workers employed to cope with catastrophes, and officers and crew members of some U.S. vessels. UCFE and OPM data differ in coverage of workers. For example, UCFE, but not OPM, includes Department of Defense workers paid from nonappropriated funds and employees of county agricultural stabilization and conservation committees, State and area marketing committees, and the Agricultural Extension Service. OPM, but not UCFE, includes workers who are not U.S. citizens and who are employed outside the United States and its territories; workers paid on a contract or fee basis; paid patients or inmates of Federal homes, hospitals, or institutions; and student employees of Federal hospitals, clinics, or laboratories.
The UCFE and OPM programs also differ in the payroll reference period. UCFE employment data relate to the payroll period that includes the 12th day of the month. OPM data, however, relate to persons employed on the last workday of the month, or the last pay period before the end of the month, plus all intermittent employees.
OPM federal data and information can be accessed from the OPM Policy Federal Employment Reports page. Questions about OPM federal employment data can be directed to email@example.com or by calling 202-606-1789.
Quarterly Workforce Indicators
The Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI), which uses QCEW and UI data as a major input (see Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics), provides local labor market statistics by industry, worker demographics, employer age and size. Unlike statistics tabulated from firm or person-level data, the QWI source data are unique job-level data that link workers to their employers. Because of this link, labor market data in the QWI is available by worker age, sex, educational attainment, and race/ethnicity. This allows for analysis by demographics of a particular local labor market or industry- for instance, identifying industries with aging workforces. Links between workers and firms also allow the QWI to identify worker flows- hires, separations, and turnover- as well as net employment growth. More information about QWI is available at https://lehd.ces.census.gov/doc/QWI_101.pdf.
County Business Patterns (CBP)
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Uses of the data
QCEW data are widely used by federal statistical agencies, BLS surveys, and other public and private establishments as a basis for their statistics and research publications.
Bureau of Economic Analysis
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce uses QCEW data as a base for developing the national, state, and local area wage and salary components of personal income. Personal income is a major part of the National Income and Product Accounts and the Regional Economic Accounts. QCEW wages accounted for 47.0 percent of total personal income and 94.2 percent of the wage and salary component of personal income in 2018.
The BEA also revises annual estimates according to QCEW wage and salary disbursements data. QCEW wages, which include irregular pay, such as bonuses and gains from the exercise of stock options, are more comprehensive. Personal Income estimates for prior quarters are revised each release. The revised estimates reflect the inclusion of newly available tabulations of prior quarter QCEW wage data.
QCEW also now collaborates with the BEA to enhance data available on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the United States. How is this possible? In the simplest terms, QCEW is "matching" two large datasets to deliver a new meaningful data. This forthcoming research data will supplement existing BEA FDI data and allow data users to analyze FDI at finer geographic and industrial levels.
Energy Information Administration
Beginning in 2017, BLS began providing QCEW data to the Energy Information Administration for the purpose of drawing a statistical sample. EIA uses this file to update their sampling frame for the Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS), Petroleum Product Sales Identification Survey (PPSIS), and the Motor Gasoline Price Survey (MGPS).
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses QCEW data as a quality check against data provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This allows SSA to improve its estimates of Old Age and Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Hospital Insurance (HI) covered and taxable wages and employment for the most recent historical periods. This, in turn, allows the Treasury to make more accurate transfers from the general fund to the OASDI and HI trust funds. For the annual Trustees Reports, this provides legislators and the general public with more accurate estimates of the effects of present and proposed legislation on the future status of the OASDI and HI trust funds.
SSA also uses QCEW data as a quality check against data provided by employers on Forms W-2. This allows them to improve their estimates of the average U.S. wage for the latest prior historical year. Each October, the SSA estimates the annual U.S. wage for the prior year to set the Average Wage Index (AWI) for that year. This, in turn, is used to set automatic adjustments in the contribution and benefit base, bend points, earnings test exempt amounts, and other wage-indexed amounts for the upcoming year.
Employment and Training Administration
The QCEW program provides data necessary to both the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor and State workforce agencies for use in administering the workforce security program. QCEW data accurately reflect the extent of coverage of State UI laws. These data are used to measure UI revenues; national, State, and local area employment; and total and UI-taxable wage trends. The information is used as an input for actuarial studies, determination of employer UI tax experience ratings, and UI maximum weekly benefit levels. Research using QCEW data helps measure the solvency of UI trust funds. States also use monthly QCEW employment data in the calculation of insured unemployment rates (IUR) for federal-state extended benefits (EB) triggers.
The Census Bureau uses QCEW program industrial classification information to assign industry codes to some employers in their Business Registry (BR). Since 1991, under a directive from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau has requested assistance from BLS with industrial classification information from its Business Establishment List (BEL). This project is conducted to maintain and strengthen industrial classifications on the Census Bureau's BR, which is the sampling frame for their establishment surveys. The sharing of these codes reduces costs and respondent burden. Also, increased consistency of industry codes leads to greater uniformity in the resulting economic data flowing from the BLS and the Census Bureau at national, state, and county levels. Consequently, the data produced from these agencies using input from BLS and Census Bureau are of higher quality. For example, state and county personal income estimates from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will benefit from consistent coding.
Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics
The Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program uses the QCEW data as a major input of their Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) data. LEHD uses QCEW data to produce employment, business dynamics, and earnings data back to the 1990s for selected areas, with the most recent LEHD data available for the nation, states, counties, MSAs, and workforce investment areas (WIAs). More information about LEHD's usage of QCEW can be found in The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
QCEW data are important for several other BLS programs. Here is some related information about these programs, and how they use QCEW information for their products:
National Compensation Survey
The National Compensation Survey (NCS) is an establishment-based survey used to provide comprehensive measures of the (1) Employment Cost Index (ECI), (2) Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), including wages and salaries, and benefits, (3) compensation trends, and (4) the incidence of employer-sponsored benefits among workers. The NCS also publishes estimates on the provisions of selected employer-sponsored benefit plans. The NCS uses a sample of approximately 8,000 private industry and state and local government establishments, selected primarily from the QCEW administrative records of UI-covered employers. For more information about these concepts, contact NCS at https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/forms/ncs?/ncs/cwcconta.htm.
Occupational Requirements Survey
The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) is an establishment-based survey and provides information on the requirements of work based on collected data from approximately 26,500 private industry and state and local government establishments. The sample is selected primarily from the QCEW administrative records of UI-covered employers. The ORS program provides job-related information about the physical demands, environmental conditions, education and training, and mental requirements of jobs in the U.S. economy. For more information about these concepts, please contact ORS at https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/forms/ors?/ors/home.htm.
Current Employment Statistics
Current Employment Statistics (CES) estimates of employment, average weekly and hourly earnings, and average weekly hours are derived from an employer survey of approximately 689,000 nonfarm establishments, selected primarily from the QCEW administrative records of UI-covered employers. CES also uses QCEW employment to benchmark their national and state employment estimates annually. Finally, CES uses information from Business Employment Dynamics (BED), derived from QCEW, as an input in the CES Birth/Death Model, a statistical modeling technique for handling business openings and closings while tracking current monthly employment.
For information on CES National concepts, contact information is available at https://www.bls.gov/ces/cesphone.htm.
For information on CES State and Area concepts, please contact State and Area CES at https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/forms/sae?/sae/790cont.htm.
Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities
The Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities (IIF) program operates the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), which provides annual estimates on the rate and number of nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses and how these statistics vary by incident, industry, geography, occupation, and other characteristics. Each year the SOII selects approximately 230,000 private industry and public sector (state and local government) establishments from a sampling frame primarily derived from QCEW administrative records of UI-covered employers. The SOII also uses employment data derived primarily from the QCEW to benchmark national and state industry-level estimates to current year employment levels. For more information about these concepts, contact IIF at https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/forms/iif?/iif/oshcont1.htm.
Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey
The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) prepares monthly estimates for the nation, private sector, government, and various industry breakouts based on NAICS sector. JOLTS estimates of job openings, hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, other separations, and total separations are derived from an establishment-based survey of approximately 16,000 nonfarm establishments, selected primarily from the QCEW administrative records of UI-covered employers. JOLTS also collects employment data for use in monthly benchmarking to the CES employment estimates. The CES employment estimates, and therefore the JOLTS estimates, are benchmarked annually to the QCEW employment data. For more information about these concepts, contact JOLTS at https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/forms/jlt?/jlt/contact.htm.
Occupational Employment Statistics
The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program provides employment and wage estimates for workers in nonfarm establishments, by occupation and industry nationally, and by occupation and area for more than 650 geographical areas. Workers are classified into more than 800 occupations according to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. OES estimates are available for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 600 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. Industry-specific estimates are available for approximately 415 industry classifications at the national level. The OES data are based on a sample of approximately 1.2 million business establishments drawn primarily from QCEW and collected over a 3-year period. OES employment estimates are benchmarked to the average of QCEW employment for the May reference date of the estimates and the previous November. For more information about these concepts, contact OES at https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/forms/oes?/oes/oes_con.htm.
QCEW Nonprofit Research Data
QCEW Nonprofit Research Data, where QCEW was 'matched' to publicly available non-profit datasets from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which allowed BLS to deliver data on establishments, employment, and wages of the non-profit sector. This product was recently updated, in August 2018, with 2016 research data, as well as with finer geographic and industrial detail- including annual average establishments and employment, and total annual wages at the county level for the Educational Services sector, Health Care and Social Assistance sector, and Other Services sector. Comments on these data and underlying methodology can be submitted to the Business Employment Dynamics (BED) information line.
Consumer Price Index
Beginning in September 2019, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plans to end the Telephone Point-of-Purchase Survey (TPOPS) and to obtain its retail establishment frame from the same household survey used to obtain the expenditure weights needed to calculate the index. The change to the Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CE) information will eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies in survey operations, and will result in lower household burden. CPI plans to refine the location and address data reported in the CE by comparing the household reported data to establishments in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) business registry.
QCEW data are used by businesses and by public and private research organizations for economic forecasting, transportation planning, industry and regional analysis, impact studies, and other tasks. Additionally, many types of media (newspapers, internet, etc.) use QCEW for fact-based content and reporting on local and national concepts. Finally, educational institutions use QCEW data for understanding the labor market, economic research, and career planning.
How to obtain publications and data
Recent and historical data may be obtained from the QCEW program. Previous editions of Employment and Wages Annual Averages are out of print, but file copies may be examined at the BLS Washington office and at Federal Depository Libraries. For assistance in obtaining QCEW data, a QCEW analyst can be reached by telephone at (202) 691-6567, or by e-mail. Requests also may be sent by mail to the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover, Room 4860, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20212. The request should include the name and telephone number of an individual whom BLS staff may contact, if necessary.
Most State workforce agencies have QCEW employment and wage data for both the private and government sectors by county and for major labor market areas. If data provided by the BLS Web site are insufficient, requests for these detailed data should be made directly to State agencies. Data for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also available and may be obtained from the State workforce agencies in those jurisdictions.
Business Employment Dynamics
The Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data are a product of the QCEW program. BED data are compiled by BLS from existing quarterly State UI records for non-household private employers and are supplemented with MWR records. In the BED program, UI records are linked across quarters to provide a longitudinal history for each privately owned establishment. The linkage process allows the tracking of net employment changes at the establishment level, which in turn allows the estimation of jobs gained at opening and expanding establishments and jobs lost at closing and contracting establishments.
The linkage process initially matches establishments' unique UI identification numbers assigned by the State workforce agencies. Between 95 and 97 percent of establishments identified as continuous from quarter to quarter are matched by UI numbers. The rest are linked in one of three ways. The first method uses predecessor and successor information, identified by the State workforce agencies, to relate records with different UI numbers across quarters. Predecessor and successor relationships can come about for a variety of reasons, including a change in ownership, a firm's restructuring, or a UI account's restructuring. If a match cannot be attained in this manner, a probability-based match is used. This match attempts to identify two establishments with different UI numbers as continuous. The match is based upon establishments having the same business name, address, and phone number. Third, an analyst examines unmatched records individually and attempts to make a possible match.
The change in employment at the establishment level results from one of four types of events. An increase in employment can come from either opening establishments or expanding establishments. A decrease in employment can come from either closing establishments or contracting establishments. Gross job gains include the sum of all jobs added at either opening or expanding establishments. Gross job losses include the sum of all jobs lost in either closing or contracting establishments. The net change in employment is the difference between gross job gains and gross job losses.
The formal definitions of establishment-level employment changes are as follows:
Openings. These are establishments either with positive third-month employment for the first time in the current quarter and with no links to the previous quarter or with positive third-month employment in the current quarter following zero employment in the previous quarter.
Expansions. These are establishments with positive employment in the third month in both the previous and current quarters and with an increase in employment over this period.
Closings. These are establishments with positive third-month employment in the previous quarter and with either no employment or zero employment reported in the current quarter.
Contractions. These are establishments with positive employment in the third month in both the previous and current quarters and with a decrease in employment from the previous to the current quarter.
All establishment-level employment changes are measured from the third month of each quarter. Not all establishments change their employment levels; these establishments count towards estimates of total employment, but not for levels of gross job gains and gross job losses.
With the publication of its first quarter data for 2007, the BED program announced a one-time revision to its historical data series. According to this announcement, all historical BED series back to third quarter 1992 have been revised for both seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted series to incorporate updated and improved input data. In the future, annual revisions to BED series will be published each year with the release of first quarter data. Those revisions will cover the last four quarters of not seasonally adjusted data and 5 years of seasonally adjusted data.
QCEW-related Articles Published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Established in 1915, the Monthly Labor Review is the principal journal of fact, analysis, and research of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other BLS publications, including Beyond the Numbers and TED: The Economics Daily, focus on short form analysis along with graphics and maps. In 2018 and 2019, these publications released several articles at least partly based on QCEW, Business Employment Dynamics (BED, or Unemployment Insurance (UI) data. A selection of these articles are listed here.
Last Modified Date: September 4, 2019