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Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Business Employment Dynamics News Release and Data

The Business Employment Dynamics series use establishment-level data collected from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to produce gross job flow statistics. Business dynamics data for first quarter 2020, published on October 28, 2020, were the first to reflect possible impacts from COVID-19. If you have questions, contact the Business Employment Dynamics staff.

Questions and Answers

  1. How are people who are absent from their jobs counted by Business Employment Dynamics? Business Employment Dynamics uses the establishment, or physical location of a business, as its primary unit of analysis. Establishments are linked longitudinally from the prior quarter to the current quarter. The reported level of employment for the third month of each quarter is used as the reference point. Establishments reporting higher employment for the third month in the current quarter than in the prior quarter are placed in the gross job gains category. Establishments showing less employment in the current quarter are in the gross job losses group.
  2. Will data collection for Business Employment Dynamics be affected by COVID-19? QCEW data collection, the primary source for Business Employment Dynamics, may be affected by the availability of state unemployment insurance (UI) staff, state labor market information (LMI) staff, BLS data collection staff, and business respondents. Most QCEW data come from state LMI departments processing data from their UI Tax extracts. QCEW also collects Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) data through a website and the Electronic Data Interchange center. QCEW manages a print contract to collect MWR data for most states. The remaining states (Hawaii, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia) print and mail forms in-house. QCEW expects data collection to be affected by increased telework and fewer respondents in offices where mail is sent. We are offering respondents increased electronic reporting options, working with our contractor to scan as much data as possible electronically, and researching other options to increase web reporting. QCEW depends on the availability of data provided by each business to the state UI system, and on data provided by businesses directly to BLS.
  3. Will BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 on Business Employment Dynamics statistics? The primary goal for Business Employment Dynamics is to provide accurate data on gross job flows each quarter. It is not likely that the impact of COVID-19 on gross job gains and losses can be measured precisely and separated from other influences on the economy. However, comparisons of the gross job flow values for a specific quarter against those of recent quarters, or the same quarter in previous years, may provide a general indication of the impacts for the nation and states.

Last Modified Date: November 25, 2020