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Handbook of Methods Current Employment Statistics - National Presentation

Current Employment Statistics - National: Presentation

Current Employment Statistics-National (CES-N) data are valued for their timeliness, breadth of industry detail, and quality. Using data from the CES sample, programs within the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produce and publish over 25,000 data series, including national estimates of employment, hours, and earnings by detailed industry. National CES estimates represent some of the earliest economic indicators available each month for evaluating the health of the U.S. economy. The CES-State and Area (CES-SA) program uses the same sample and collection methods, thus references to CES apply to both CES-N and CES-SA programs.

Most CES-N data are released with the Employment Situation news release. The CES-N program also publishes the Real Earnings news release in conjunction with the release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) news release each month. Real earnings reflect current dollar average hourly and average weekly earnings deflated by the CPI to provide information on the real buying power of workers. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget has identified both the Employment Situation and Real Earnings news releases as principal federal economic indicators.

Published data series

The CES-N employment series include all employees, production and nonsupervisory employees, and women employees. Monthly employment estimates for major industry sectors and some detailed industries begin as early as 1939, and most employment series begin no later than 1990.

BLS also produces estimates of average hourly earnings, average weekly hours, and, for manufacturing industries, average weekly overtime hours. Hours and earnings estimates cover private-sector workers in two employee sets—all employees and production and nonsupervisory employees. Since 1964, monthly estimates of hours and earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees have been produced for all private industry sectors, and production and nonsupervisory employee hours and earnings series go back to at least 1990 for most detailed industries. The hours and earnings estimates for all employees at all levels of aggregation start in 2006.

Most employment, hours, and earnings series are available on both a seasonally adjusted and a not seasonally adjusted basis.

BLS also derives other series, such as average weekly earnings and diffusion indexes, from the basic series of employment, hours, and earnings.

A complete list of series published by CES-N including CES industry title and code, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), start date of all employees, and data type published for seasonally and not seasonally adjusted series is available at  

Publications and outputs

News releases

  • The Employment Situation is a monthly news release combining CES-N employment, hours, and earnings estimates and labor force data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), is published about 3 weeks after the week that includes the 12th of the month.
  • CES highlights is a monthly analysis of employment trends by industry sector.
  • Interactive charts is a standard set of charts updated each month with the Employment Situation news release.
  • Real Earnings is a monthly news release of CES-N earnings data adjusted for inflation and published at the same time as the CPI, usually the week after publication of the Employment Situation.

The Employment Situation, Real Earnings, and all other current and archived CES-N news releases can be accessed from Upcoming release dates are also available at


  • Employment and earnings tables have CES-N employment, hours, and earnings data.
  • CES-N peak-trough tables identify key turning points in seasonally adjusted CES-N time series that mark the beginning of sustained periods of growth or contraction in the time series.
  • CES-N analytical tables track current changes and trends for analyzing CES-N data.
  • CES-N birth–death tables contain current net birth–death forecasts applied to CES employment estimates.
  • CES-N strike report is a summary of strike and work stoppage activity that occurred during the survey reference period (the pay period that includes the 12th of the month). The CES-N program gathers information from public sources, such as media reports or publicly available company or union information. The report is prepared and released before estimates are compiled.
  • CES-National benchmark article is an annual report on the revisions associated with realigning CES-N estimates with the sampled universe employment data. 
  • Other publications section contain articles and reports about CES-N data trends and research.

Obtaining CES-N data

CES-N data are available on the BLS website at A number of web tools are provided to help users extract CES-N data, and instructions for those tools are available at

BLS Restricted Data Access

BLS allows eligible researchers the opportunity to gain access to CES-N restricted data files for select statistical research projects onsite at the BLS national office in Washington, DC. For information about how to apply for access to BLS research data is available at


Monthly revisions

CES estimates are considered preliminary when first published each month because not all respondents report their payroll data by the initial release of employment, hours, and earnings. BLS continues to collect payroll data and revises estimates twice before the annual benchmark update (see benchmark revisions section below). For a given month, BLS publishes second preliminary estimates 1 month after the initial release and final sample-based estimates 2 months after the initial release. The estimates published with the second and third (final) releases incorporate additional data from respondents and corrected data. With each new monthly observation and the revisions to previous months’ estimates, BLS recalculates CES seasonal adjustment factors, which also can contribute to revisions in the seasonally adjusted estimates. Tables of the monthly revisions to preliminary CES-N data are available at

Benchmark revisions

On an annual basis, BLS recalculates nearly 2 years of CES data in a process known as benchmarking. The process corrects for sampling and modeling error by reanchoring sample-based estimates for March of each year to a near complete employment count based primarily on unemployment insurance tax records, which are supplemented with data from other sources. More information about the CES-N benchmark and tables of benchmark revisions to CES-N data are available at

Uses and major users

The CES-N estimates serve as important economic indicators for analyzing the health of the U.S. economy. Total nonfarm employment and aggregate weekly hours (the product of employment and average weekly hours) are considered coincident economic indicators, meaning they are indicative of the current state of the economy. They tend to move in sync with U.S. business cycles, reaching peaks and troughs at about the same time as the cycle. In fact, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research uses CES employment data to determine turning points in the U.S. business cycle.

CES-N data also serve as inputs to other economy-wide indicators. The Federal Reserve uses aggregate weekly hours of manufacturing, mining and logging, utilities, and publishing industries to calculate industrial production indexes, which measure real output in those industries. In addition, the Federal Reserve uses CES-N data to gauge economic conditions in the U.S. labor market when formulating and evaluating monetary policy.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses aggregate weekly earnings (the product of average hourly earnings, average weekly hours, and employment) for all private-sector jobs to estimate wages and salaries for personal income, a coincident economic indicator.

The Conference Board combines various statistics to produce its composite leading and coincident economic indexes. These indexes are designed to signal peaks and troughs in the U.S. business cycle and to summarize and reveal common turning-point patterns in economic data by smoothing out some of the volatility of individual economic series. The Coincident Economic Index provides information on the current state of the economy. The CES-N employment series is a direct input into the index, whereas aggregate weekly earnings for all private industries and aggregate weekly hours of production employees in selected industries are indirect inputs (through personal income and industrial production, respectively).

The Conference Board’s leading economic index is used to predict the direction of the economy’s movements in months to come. The manufacturing workweek from the CES-N survey, also useful as a short-term predictor of changing economic trends, is a direct input into the index.

Changes in employment trends of the temporary help services industry typically lead employment changes for the overall U.S. economy. Therefore, the Conference Board uses temporary help employment from the CES-N as an input in calculating the employment trend index.

The CES-N data are used as inputs to statistical series produced by other BLS programs.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) uses CES data as a monthly benchmark of employment for estimating job openings, hires, and separations.

The National Compensation Survey (NCS) produces quarterly indexes measuring change over time in labor costs, Employment Cost Index (ECI), and quarterly data measuring level of average costs per hour worked, Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC). The NCS program uses CES-N data to weight employment for ECEC estimates.

The Office of Productivity and Technology (OPT) produces measures of labor productivity (output per hour), unit labor costs, and multifactor productivity (output per unit of combined inputs) for major U.S. economic sectors and industries. The measure of labor hours underlying the productivity series is based primarily on CES-N employment and average weekly hours (adjusted to an hours-worked concept).

The Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections produces employment projections for 10 years into the future. The CES-N estimates of employment by industry, supplemented with data from the CPS survey, serve as the base-year employment from which projections are made.

Policymakers closely follow CES-N data for its depth of coverage by industry and timely release each month. Government officials use CES-N employment and aggregate earnings data in their fiscal policy to forecast tax revenues and plan budgets.

A broad spectrum of researchers, including BLS economists, use national CES data to analyze the economy, labor markets, and industries. The CES-N data also are used in the private sector by firms, labor unions, universities, trade associations, and research organizations to study economic conditions and to develop plans for the future. These organizations, for example, may use employment, hours, and earnings data for planning business activity and for forecasting and analysis of the labor market and the U.S. economy. Every month, national and local news media report results from the CES-N news releases. Trade association journals, the labor press, and general reference works regularly republish CES data in summary form or for specific industries.

Publication precision

For employment data types, CES-N publishes estimates in thousands rounded to the nearest whole number for supersectors and higher aggregates shown in exhibit 1. All other employment series are published in thousands rounded to the tenths place (or nearest hundred). Average weekly hours are published in hours rounded to one decimal. Average hourly and weekly earnings are published in dollars rounded to the nearest cent.

In the rare event CES-N must issue corrected data between scheduled publications, a notice is published detailing the nature of the error(s), the date the correction was made, the published product(s) impacted by the correction, and the date of the announcement of the error. Notices are published on the BLS Errata home page ( and on the CES Notices home page (

Exhibit 1. Current Employment Statistics-National (CES-N) employment series that round to the nearest thousand
CES-N industry code Industry title


Total nonfarm


Total private






Private service-providing


Mining and logging






Durable goods manufacturing


Nondurable goods manufacturing


Trade, transportation, and utilities




Financial activities


Professional and business services


Education and health services


Leisure and hospitality


Other services


Last Modified Date: May 04, 2022