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 Bureau’s 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’s 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 measures for any given quarter. Each of these measures—Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), Business Employment Dynamics (BED), and Current Employment Statistics (CES)—makes use of the quarterly UI employment reports in producing data; however, 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 employment change over time. It is important to understand program differences and the intended uses of the program products. (See table.) Additional information on each program can be obtained from the program websites shown in the table. 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- | 689,000 establish- | submitted by 10.1 | ministrative records| ments | million establish- | submitted by 8.2 | | ments in first qu- | million private-sec-| | arter of 2019 | tor establishments | -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------ Coverage |--UI and UCFE cover- |--UI Coverage, exclud-|Nonfarm wage and salary | age, including all | ing government, pri-| jobs: | employers subject | vate households, and|--UI Coverage, exclud- | to state and feder-| establishments with | ing agriculture, pri- | ral UI Laws | zero employment | vate households, and | | | self-employed workers | | |--other employment, | | | including railroads, | | | religious organiza- | | | tions, and other non- | | | UI-covered jobs | | | -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------ Publication|--Quarterly |--Quarterly |--Monthly frequency | -6 months after the| -7 months after the | -Usually the 3rd Fri- | end of each quar- | end of each quarter| day after the end of | ter | | the week including | | | the 12th of the month -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------ 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 to ann- | new quarter of UI | dinal database and | ually realign sample- | data | directly summarizes | based estimates to pop- | | gross job gains and | ulation counts (bench- | | losses | marking) -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------ 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, Met-| and contractions at | industry | ropolitan statisti-| the national level | | cal area (MSA), St-| by NAICS super- | | ate, and national | sectors,3-digit | | levels by detailed | NAICS, and by size | | industry | of firm, and at the | | | state private-sector| | | total level | | |--Future expansions | | | will include | | | data with greater | | | industry detail and | | | data at the county | | | and MSA level | -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------ Principal |--Major uses include:|--Major uses include: |--Major uses include: uses | -Detailed locality | -Business cycle | -Principal federal | 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 |--www.bls.gov/cew |--www.bls.gov/bdm |--www.bls.gov/ces Web sites | | | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Coverage 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 organizations, 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 certain small nonprofit organizations. Gross job gains and gross job losses in this release are derived from longitudinal histories of 8.2 million private sector employer reports out of 10.1 million total reports of employment and wages submitted by states to BLS in the first quarter of 2019. 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 employment in both previous and current quarters. Data from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are also excluded from the national data. 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 2019. Number of active establishments included in Business Employment Dynamics data at the national level Total establishments QCEW program....................................................10.1 Excluded: Public sector............................................................ 0.3 Private households......................................................... 0.2 Zero employment............................................................ 1.4 Total establishments included in Business Employment Dynamics data............................................................. 8.2 Unit of analysis Establishments are used in the tabulation of the BED statistics by industry and firms are used in the tabulation of the BED size class statistics. 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 employment 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 employment 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 quarters. 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 establishments' unique SWA identification numbers (SWA-ID). Between 95 and 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 records 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 3-year cycle. Changes in establishment classification codes resulting from the verification process are introduced with the data reported for the first quarter of the year. Changes resulting from improved employer reporting also are introduced in the first quarter. Sizing methodology The method of dynamic sizing is used in calculations for the BED size class data series. Dynamic sizing allocates each firm’s 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 allocated 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 firms’ 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 variation 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 analyze changes in economic activity. The employment data series for opening, expanding, closing, and contracting units are independently seasonally adjusted; net changes are calculated based on the difference between gross job gains and gross job losses. Similarly, 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 employment levels are independently seasonally adjusted to calculate the seasonally adjusted rates. Concurrent seasonal adjustment is run using X-13 ARIMA-SEATS. 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 adjusted 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 particularly 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 changes. Reliability of the data Since the data series on Business Employment Dynamics are based on administrative rather than sample data, there are no issues related to sampling error. Nonsampling error, however, still exists. Nonsampling errors can occur 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 distributed 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 complications. The BED data series are subject to periodic minor changes based on corrections 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 quarter data. These revisions cover the last four quarters of not seasonally adjusted 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 employment and wages and the annual bulletin also are available upon request from the Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover (Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages), telephone (202) 691-6567; (www.bls.gov/cew/); (e-mail: QCEWInfo@bls.gov). The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program produces monthly estimates of employment, its net change, hours, and earnings by detailed industry. These estimates are part of the Employment Situation report put out monthly by BLS. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) program provides monthly measures of job openings, as well as employee hires and separations. Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; TDD message referral phone number: 1 (800) 877-8339.