Business Employment Dynamics Technical Note

Technical Note

   The Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data are a product of a federal-
state cooperative program known as Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
(QCEW).  The BED data are compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 
(BLS) from existing QCEW records.  Most employers in the U.S. are required
to file quarterly reports on the employment and wages of workers covered by
unemployment insurance (UI) laws, and to pay quarterly UI taxes. The QCEW 
is based largely on quarterly UI reports which are sent by businesses to 
the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). These UI reports are supplemented by
two additional BLS data collections to render administrative data into 
economic statistics. Together these data comprise the QCEW and form the 
basis of the Bureauís establishment universe sampling frame.
   These reports are used to produce the quarterly QCEW data on total 
employment and wages and the longitudinal BED data on gross job gains and
losses. The QCEW is also the employment benchmark for  the Current
Employment Statistics (CES), Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), and 
Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) programs and is a major input
to the Bureau of Economic Analysis Personal Income Accounts.
   In the BED program, the quarterly QCEW 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, which in turn allows the estimation of jobs gained at opening and 
expanding units and jobs lost at closing and contracting units.                                     

Differences between QCEW, BED, and CES employment measures

   The Bureau publishes three different establishment-based employment mea-
sures for any given quarter.  Each of these measures -- QCEW, BED, and CES--
makes use of the quarterly UI employment reports in producing data; how-
ever, each measure has a somewhat different universe coverage, estimation
procedure, and publication product.

   Differences in coverage and estimation methods can result in somewhat 
different measures of over-the-quarter employment change. It is important to
understand program differences and the intended uses of the program products.
(See table below.)

   Additional information on each program can be obtained from the program 
web sites shown in the table below.

Summary of Major Differences between QCEW, BED, and CES Employment Measures
           |         QCEW        |         BED          |         CES
Source     |--Count of UI admini-|--Count of longitudi- |--Sample survey: 
           |  strative records   |  nally-linked UI ad- |  623,000 establish-
           |  submitted by 9.6   |  ministrative records|  ments
           |  million employers  |  submitted by 7.7    |
           |                     |  million private sec-|
           |                     |  tor employers       |
Coverage   |--UI and UCFE cover- |--UI Coverage, exclud-|Nonfarm wage and sal-
           |  age:  all employers|  ing government, pri-|  ary jobs:
           |  subject to state   |  vate households, and|--UI Coverage, exclud-
           |  and federal UI Laws|  establishments with |  ing: agriculture, pri-
           |                     |  zero employment     |  vate households, and
           |                     |                      |  self-employed;
           |                     |                      |  including: railroads,
           |                     |                      |  religious organiza-
           |                     |                      |  tions, and other non-
           |                     |                      |  UI-covered jobs
           |                     |                      |
Publication|--Quarterly          |--Quarterly           |--Monthly 
frequency  |  -6 months after the|  -7 months after the |  -First Friday
           |   end of each quar- |   end of each quarter|   of following month
           |   ter               |                      |
Use of UI  |--Directly summarizes|--Links each new UI   |--Uses UI file as a sam-
file       |  and publishes each |  quarter to longitu- |  pling frame and annu-
           |  new quarter of UI  |  dinal database and  |  ally realigns (bench-
           |  data               |  directly summarizes |  marks) sample esti-    
           |                     |  gross job gains and |  mates to first quar-  
           |                     |  losses              |  ter UI levels
Principal  |--Provides a quarter-|--Provides quarterly  |--Provides current month-
products   |  ly and annual uni- |  employer dynamics   |  ly estimates of employ-
           |  verse count of es- |  data on establish-  |  ment, hours, and earn-
           |  tablishments, em-  |  ment openings, clos-|  ings at the MSA, state,
           |  ployment, and wages|  ings, expansions,   |  and national level by
           |  at the county, MSA,|  and contractions at |  industry
           |  State, and national|  the national level  |
           |  levels by detailed |  by NAICS super-     |
           |  industry           |  sectors,3-digit     |
           |                     |  NAICS, and by size  |
           |                     |  of firm, and at the |   
           |                     |  state private-sector|
           |                     |  total level         | 
           |                     |--Future expansions   |
           |                     |  will include        |
           |                     |  data at the county  |
           |                     |  and MSA level       |
Principal  |--Major uses include:|--Major uses include: |--Major uses include:
uses       |  -Detailed locality |  -Business cycle     |  -Principal national
           |   data              |   analysis           |   economic indicator
           |  -Periodic universe |  -Analysis of employ-|  -Official time series 
           |   counts for bench- |   er dynamics under- |   for employment change
           |   marking sample    |   lying economic ex- |   measures
           |   survey estimates  |   pansions and con-  |  -Input into other ma-
           |  -Sample frame for  |   tractions          |   jor economic indi-
           |   BLS establishment |  -Analysis of employ-|   cators
           |   surveys           |   ment expansion and |
           |                     |   contraction by size|   
           |                     |   of firm            |
           |                     |                      |
Program    |   |    |
Web sites  |                     |                      |

   Employment and wage data for workers covered by state UI and Unemployment 
Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) laws are compiled from quarterly 
contribution reports submitted to the SWAs by employers.  In addition to the
quarterly contribution reports, employers who operate multiple establishments 
within a state complete a questionnaire, called the "Multiple Worksite Report,"
which provides detailed information on the location of their establishments.    
These reports are based on place of employment rather than place of residence. 
UI and UCFE coverage is broad and basically comparable from state to state.

   Major exclusions from UI coverage are self-employed workers, religious or-
ganizations, most agricultural workers on small farms, all members of the 
Armed Forces, elected officials in most states, most employees of railroads, 
some domestic workers, most student workers at schools, and employees of cer-
tain small nonprofit organizations.   
   Gross job gains and gross job losses in this release are derived from lon-
gitudinal histories of 7.7 million private sector employer reports out 
of 9.6 million total reports of employment and wages submitted by states to 
BLS in the first quarter of 2016.  Gross job gains and gross job losses data 
in this release do not report estimates for government employees or private 
households (NAICS 814110), and do not include establishments with zero employ-
ment in both previous and current quarters. Data from Puerto Rico and the 
Virgin Islands are also excluded from the national data. As an illustration, 
the table below shows, in millions of establishments, the number of 
establishments excluded from the national gross job gains and gross job losses 
data in the first quarter 2016:

             Number of active establishments included in 
              Business Employment Dynamics data at the
                          national level

Total establishments QCEW program....................................9.6

    Excluded:  Public sector.........................................0.3 
               Private households....................................0.2
               Zero employment.......................................1.3      
               Establishments in Puerto Rico 
                 and the Virgin Islands..............................0.1 

Total establishments included in Business
Employment Dynamics data.............................................7.7

Unit of analysis
   Establishments are used in the tabulation of the BED statistics by in-
dustry and firms are used in the tabulation of the BED size class sta-
tistics. An establishment is defined as an economic unit that produces 
goods or services, usually at a single physical location, and engages in
one or predominantly one activity. A firm is a legal business, either 
corporate or otherwise, and may consist of several establishments. Firm-
level data are compiled based on an aggregation of establishments under
common ownership by a corporate parent using employer tax identification
numbers.  The firm level aggregation which is consistent with the role of
corporations as the economic decision makers are used for the measurement
of the BED data elements by size class.
   Because of the difference in the unit of analysis, total gross job gains 
and gross job losses by size class are lower than total gross job gains and 
gross job losses by industry, as some establishment gains and losses within 
a firm are offset during the aggregation process.  However, the total net 
changes in employment are the same for not seasonally adjusted data and are
similar for seasonally adjusted data.
Concepts and methodology

   The Business Employment Dynamics data measure the net change in employ-
ment at the establishment or firm level.  These changes come about in one 
of four ways.  A net increase in employment can come from either opening 
units or expanding units.  A net decrease in employment can come from either
closing units or contracting units.  Gross job gains include the sum of all
jobs added at either opening or expanding units.  Gross job losses include
the sum of all jobs lost in either closing or contracting units.  The net 
change in employment is the difference between gross job gains and gross 
job losses.
   The formal definitions of employment changes are as follows:                          

   Openings.  These are either units with positive third month employment for 
the first time in the current quarter, with no links to the prior quarter, or 
with positive third month employment in the current quarter following zero em-
ployment in the previous quarter.
   Expansions.  These are units with positive employment in the third month 
in both the previous and current quarters, with a net increase in employment
over this period.
   Closings.  These are either units with positive third month employment in 
the previous quarter, with no employment or zero employment reported in the 
current quarter.
   Contractions.  These are units with positive employment in the third month
in both the previous and current quarters, with a net decrease in employment
over this period.   

   Births.  These are units with positive third month employment for the 
first time in the current quarter with no links to the prior quarter, or 
units with positive third month employment in the current quarter and zero 
employment in the third month of the previous four quarters. Births are a 
subset of openings not including re-openings of seasonal businesses.

   Deaths.  These are units with no employment or zero employment reported in
the third month of four consecutive quarters following the last quarter with 
positive employment.  Deaths are a subset of closings not including temporary
shutdowns of seasonal businesses.  A unit that closes during the quarter may
be a death, but we wait three quarters to determine whether it is a permanent
closing or a temporary shutdown.  Therefore, there is always a lag of three 
quarters for the publication of death statistics.

   All employment changes are measured from the third month of the previous 
quarter to the third month of the current quarter. Not all establishments and
firms change their employment levels.  Units with no change in employment 
count towards estimates of total employment, but not for levels of gross job
gains and gross job losses.

   Gross job gains and gross job losses are expressed as rates by dividing 
their levels by the average of employment in the current and previous quar-
ters. This provides a symmetric growth rate. The rates are calculated for 
the components of gross job gains and gross job losses and then summed to 
form their respective totals. These rates can be added and subtracted just 
as their levels can.  For instance, the difference between the gross job 
gains rate and the gross job losses rate is the net growth rate.

Establishment Births and Deaths

   For the purpose of BED statistics, births are defined as establishments 
that appear in the longitudinal database for the first time with positive 
employment in the third month of a quarter, or showed four consecutive 
quarters of zero employment in the third month followed by a quarter in 
which it shows positive employment in the third month.  Similarly, deaths 
are defined as establishments that either drop out of the longitudinal 
database or an establishment that had positive employment in the third 
month of a given quarter followed by four consecutive quarters of showing
zero employment in the third month.  Although the data for establishment 
births and deaths are tabulated independently from the data for openings 
and closings, the concepts are not mutually exclusive.  An establishment 
that is defined as a birth in a given quarter is necessarily an opening 
as well, and an establishment defined as a death in a quarter must also be
a closing.  Since openings include seasonal and other re-openings and 
closings include temporary shutdowns, the not seasonally adjusted values 
for births and deaths must be less than those for openings and closings.  
However, because some BED series do not have many re-openings or temporary
shutdowns, as well as the fact that births and deaths are independently 
seasonally adjusted from openings and closings, there may be instances in
which the seasonally adjusted value of the former is greater than the latter.

Linkage methodology

   Prior to the measurement of gross job gains and gross job losses, QCEW 
records are linked across two quarters. The linkage process matches estab-
lishments' unique SWA identification numbers (SWA-ID).  Between 95 to 97
percent of establishments identified as continuous from quarter to quarter 
are matched by SWA-ID.  The rest are linked in one of three ways.  The first
method uses predecessor and successor information, identified by the States,
which relates records with different SWA-IDs across quarters.  Predecessor
and successor relations can come about for a variety of reasons, including 
a change in ownership, a firm restructuring, or a UI account 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 SWA-
IDs as continuous.  The match is based upon comparisons such as the same 
name, address, and phone number.  Third, an analyst examines unmatched re-
cords individually and makes a possible match.

   In order to ensure the highest possible quality of data, SWAs verify with 
employers and update, if necessary, the industry, location, and ownership 
classification of all establishments on a 4-year cycle.  Changes in establish-
ment classification codes resulting from the verification process are intro-
duced with the data reported for the first quarter of the year.  Changes re-
sulting from improved employer reporting also are introduced in the first 
Sizing methodology
   The method of dynamic sizing is used in calculations for the BED size 
class data series.  Dynamic sizing allocates each firmís employment gain or 
loss during a quarter to each respective size class in which the change 
occurred.  For example, if a firm grew from 2 employees in quarter 1 to 38 
employees in quarter 2, then, of the 36-employee increase, 2 would be al-
located to the first size class, 5 to the size class 5 to 9, 10 to size 
class 10 to 19, and 19 to size class 20 to 49.

   Dynamic sizing provides symmetrical firm size estimates and eliminates 
any systematic effects which may be caused by the transitory and reverting 
changes in firmsí sizes over time.  Additionally, it allocates each job 
gain or loss to the actual size class where it occurred.

Annual Data

   The annual gross job gains and gross job losses measure the net change 
in employment at the establishment level from the third month of a quarter
in the previous year to the third month of the same quarter in the current 
year. The BLS publishes annual BED data based on March-to-March changes 
once a year with the release of the first quarter BED data. The annual 
data based on over-the-year changes for other quarters of the year are 
available upon request.  The definitions and methodology in measuring 
annual gross job gains and gross job losses are similar to the quarterly 
measures. The linkage method considers all predecessor and successor 
relations that may come about due to changes in ownership and corporate 
restructuring over the entire year. At the establishment level, some of 
the quarterly job gains and job losses are offset during the estimation
over the year. Therefore, the sum of four quarters of gross job gains 
and gross job losses are not equal to annual gross job gains and gross 
job losses. The net change in employment over the year, however, is 
equal to the sum of four quarterly net changes on a not seasonally 
adjusted basis.

Seasonal adjustment

   Over the course of a year, the levels of employment and the associated 
job flows undergo sharp fluctuations due to such seasonal events as changes 
in the weather, reduced or expanded production, harvests, major holidays, 
and the opening and closing of schools.  The effect of such seasonal vari-
ation can be very large.

   Because these seasonal events follow a more or less regular pattern each 
year, their influence can be eliminated by adjusting these statistics from
quarter to quarter.  These adjustments make nonseasonal developments, such as
declines in economic activity, easier to recognize.  For example, the large 
number of youths taking summer jobs is likely to obscure other changes that 
have taken place in June relative to March, making it difficult to determine 
if the level of economic activity has risen or declined.  However, because 
the effect of students finishing school in previous years is known, the 
statistics for the current year can be adjusted to allow for a comparable 
change. The adjusted figures provide a more useful tool with which to ana-
lyze changes in economic activity.

   The employment data series for opening, expanding, closing, and contrac-
ting units are independently seasonally adjusted; net changes are calculated 
based on the difference between gross job gains and gross job losses. Simi-
larly, for industry data, the establishment counts data series for opening,
expanding, closing, and contracting establishments are independently adjusted, 
and the net changes are calculated based on the difference between the number 
of opening and closing establishments.  Additionally establishment and em-
ployment levels are independently seasonally adjusted to calculate the sea-
sonally adjusted rates. Concurrent seasonal adjustment is run using X-12 
ARIMA.  Seasonally adjusted data series for total private are the sum of 
seasonally adjusted data of all sectors including the unclassified sector, 
which is not separately published.

   The net over-the-quarter change derived by summing the BED component series 
will differ from the net employment change estimated from the seasonally ad-
justed total private employment series from the CES program. The intended use 
of BED statistics is to show the dynamic labor market changes that underlie 
the net employment change statistic. As such, data users interested particu-
larly in the net employment change and not in the gross job flows underlying 
this change should refer to CES data for over-the-quarter net employment 
Reliability of the data
   Since the data series on Business Employment Dynamics are based on admini-
strative rather than sample data, there are no issues related to sampling 
error. Nonsampling error, however, still exists.  Nonsampling errors can oc-
cur for many reasons, such as the employer submitting corrected employment 
data after the end of the quarter or typographical errors made by businesses
when providing information. Such errors, however, are likely to be distri-
buted randomly throughout the dataset. 
   Changes in administrative data sometimes create complications for the 
linkage process. This can result in overstating openings and closings while 
understating expansions and contractions. The BLS continues to refine methods
for improving the linkage process to alleviate the effects of these compli-
   The BED data series are subject to periodic minor changes based on correc-
tions in QCEW records, updates on predecessors and successors information, and
seasonal adjustment revisions.

   Annual revisions are published each year with the release of the first qua-
rter data. These revisions cover the last four quarters of not seasonally adj-
usted data and 5 years of seasonally adjusted data.
Additional statistics and other information
   Several other programs within BLS produce closely related information.	
The QCEW program provides both quarterly and annual estimates of employment 
by state, county, and detailed industry. News releases on quarterly county e
mployment and wages and an annual bulletin: Employment and Wages Annual 
Averages, are available upon request from the Division of Administrative 
Statistics and Labor Turnover, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department 
of Labor, Washington, DC 20212; telephone 202-691-6567; 
(;  (e-mail:   
   The CES program produces monthly estimates of employment, its net change,
and earnings by detailed industry.  These estimates are part of the Employ-
ment Situation report put out monthly by BLS.  
   The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) program provides month-
ly measures of job openings, as well as employee hires and separations.

   Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired in-
dividuals upon request. Voice phone:  202-691-5200; TDD message referral 
number: 1-800-877-8339.

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Last Modified Date: March 23, 2017