Data from the BR, as well as the more than 100 surveys that rely on its sampling frame, are used in the production of a wide range of publicly available aggregate statistics (many available on the Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder web page at A widely used product of the BR is the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns. First-quarter employment and payroll numbers, cross-tabbed by county and kind of business, are published, cooperatively with the SSA, in the County Business Patterns and in the ZIP Code Business Patterns statistical series.

In addition, the Census Bureau’s Non-Employer Statistics (NES) “provides U.S. and sub-national data by industry for businesses without paid employees.” Originating primarily from administrative records, the NES “summarizes the number of establishments and receipts of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations without paid employees.” The Census Bureau began publishing NES data annually in 1997, and annual releases beginning with the year 2002 can be found on its American FactFinder web page.

These publications provide geographic aggregates of the BR microdata. BR data are also essential to economic research conducted at the Center for Economic Studies (for a description of these uses, see Although a number of BR-based aggregate statistics enjoy high visibility, the BR is also structured with confidentiality very much at the fore. The BR itself is not a publicly available document, although parts of the register can be used by researchers under highly restrictive arrangements at the Census Bureau’s research data centers (RDCs). Beyond this, data from administrative records are maintained in separate tables, and IRS Title 26 data are segregated from Census collected data. Microdata on race and gender, required for the Survey of Business Owners (SBO), is likewise stored in a separate table for use by SBO analysts only.

The BLS Business List

The other primary business list maintained in the federal statistical system is BLS’s QCEW—formerly the Business Establishment List, initiated in 1988. The QCEW converts data submitted by the universe of employer businesses covered by state UI systems (ES-202), as well as federal agencies subject to the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program, to an establishment basis. The master file includes a number of key fields: establishment name, address, telephone number, monthly employment and quarterly wages, federal EIN—all available by NAICS code, county, and ownership sector for the entire United States.7 UI wage records


Full details are documented at the BLS QCEW home page (

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