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Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Employment Cost Index data for September 2020

This page provides further information on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the September 2020 Employment Cost Index news release.

Collection mode

The ECI data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. 

Response rates

Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period. See the historical response rates. Response rates were comparable in September 2020 to the June 2020 release.

Table 1. Response rates for usable data eligible for collection
Compensation component December 2019 March 2020 June 2020 September 2020

Wages and salaries

86.0% 79.5% 80.0% 81.2%


95.3% 95.9% 95.8% 95.3%

Measures of reliability

BLS publishes measures of reliability along with not seasonally adjusted 3-month and 12-month percent changes. See Technical Information about Standard Errors for Employment Cost Index Estimates and the database query tools. The percentage of standard errors (3-month percent change) less than 0.3 in September 2020 decreased from those estimated in June 2020.

Table 2. Percentage of standard errors (3-month percent change) less than 0.3
Compensation component December 2019 March 2020 June 2020 September 2020

Total compensation

99.2% 89.4% 84.8% 84.1%

Wages and salaries

97.7% 87.1% 79.5% 82.5%


100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Last Modified Date: October 30, 2020