BLS’s Business Employment Dynamics (BED) Program

The BLS’s BED program produces a quarterly series of gross job gains and gross job losses statistics based on the universe of establishments covered in the QCEW (those subject to state unemployment insurance laws). Sectoral designations now conform to the NAICS classification system. Again, the major exclusions are the self-employed, along with certain nonprofit organizations. Data from the program were first published in September 2003 and are now complete for the period 1992 to the first quarter of 2006. Quarterly data will be released every three months, making them more timely than the alternative employment data sources previously available.16

The BED data allow disaggregation of employment changes into the underlying components—the number (and percentage) of gross jobs gained by opening and expanding establishments and the number (and percentage) of gross jobs lost by closing and contracting establishments.17 These data, constructed using a multistep procedure to link QCEW microdata across periods, provide a picture of the dynamics underlying aggregate employment growth statistics.18 Research based on the quarterly time series contributes to knowledge of the processes underlying the business cycle; for example, Clayton, Sadeghi, and Talan (2005) identify seasonally adjusted job changes resulting from establishment openings and closings, as opposed to expansions and contractions. In general, BED data have revealed that firm and establishment growth rates vary by size and how these results differ from those produced by analyses limited to annual data.

The primary obstacle to further development of the BED is that EINs are imperfect for creating record linkages (see Okolie, 2004); however both the QCEW and the BED incorporate a complex multi-stage process to link records across quarters.19 As with QCEW microdata, researchers must submit proposals to access BED data; if the proposal is accepted, the data must be used at the BLS research center in Washington.


These and other details can be found at http://www.bls.gov/bdm/bdmover.htm.


Getz et al. (2005) provide a detailed description of the methodologies used to capture business births and deaths in the various Census Bureau and BLS data sources.


Pivetz et al. (2001) describe the technique used to longitudinally link the data.


Clayton, Sadeghi, and Talan (2005) provides some detail on the linkage procedures for the QCEW.

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