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Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on County Employment and Wages News Release and Data

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) publishes data on establishment counts, monthly employment, and total quarterly wages each quarter. If you have questions, contact the QCEW staff.

Quarterly County Employment and Wages news releases and COVID-19 impact summaries

Beginning with the publication of third quarter 2021 data in February 2022, the quarter-specific QCEW impact summaries were discontinued. Quarterly response rates for the QCEW program will continue to be available in the QCEW Response Rates Tables page.

Questions and Answers

  1. How were people who were absent from their jobs during the pandemic counted by QCEW? Workers who were paid by their employer for all or any part of the pay period including the 12th of the month were counted during the pandemic as employed in the QCEW, even if they were not actually at their jobs. Workers who were temporarily or permanently absent from their jobs, but were not paid, were not counted as employed even if they continued to receive benefits.
  2. Was data collection for QCEW affected by COVID-19? The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on QCEW data collection was relatively minor and somewhat affected by the availability of state unemployment insurance (UI) staff, state labor market information (LMI) staff, BLS data collection staff, and business respondents during the pandemic. Most QCEW data come from state LMI departments processing data from their UI tax extracts. QCEW also collects Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) data electronically through the MWR 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 directly. QCEW anticipated that respondent availability to receive printed solicitations could be affected by increased telework and fewer respondents in offices where mail was sent. We offered 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. Did BLS attempt to quantify the overall impact of COVID-19 on QCEW estimates? BLS's primary goal for QCEW is to provide accurate levels of employment, establishment counts, and total quarterly wages. It was not possible to precisely quantify the impact of COVID-19 on employment, establishment counts, or wages because its effects could not be separated from other influences on the economy, particularly at the national level. Comparisons of employment changes for a specific month against those of recent months may provide a general indication of the impacts at the national level. QCEW data for states and metropolitan areas may provide further indications of an impact at the local level.

Last Modified Date: February 23, 2022