U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS (BLS)

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) [formerly the Business Establishment List (BEL)]

Purpose/uses

Serves as the sample frame for most BLS establishment surveys. Used to publish a quarterly count of employment and wages reported by employers (covers about 98% of U.S. jobs) available at the county, MSA, state and national levels, by industry. Used as benchmarking source for CES and OES. Used by BEA in calculating personal income components of GDP.

Design basics

Constructed mainly from UI system administrative records maintained by SESAs.

Frequency

Microdata continuously updated. County wage and employment data are published quarterly, 6 to 7 months after end of quarter.

Unit level

Establishment (EIN provides ability to aggregate to firm and industry levels and from county to national levels).

Coverage

Includes all establishments and workers covered by UI and UCFE programs. This amounts to about 8.4 million establishments—a near census—and 98% of all nonfarm wage and salary employment.

Content

Master file includes establishment names; full mailing and physical address; federal EIN; monthly employment; and quarterly wages by NAICS industry, county, ownership sector.

Limitations or lag time

Excludes nonemployer firms; no ownership characteristics; no government and only partial farm coverage; ownership links for multistate firms not comprehensive.

Accessibility of data

Microdata available only for statistical purposes and must be accessed onsite at the BLS research center in Washington, DC. Publicly available files include data on the number of establishments, monthly employment levels and quarterly wages, aggregated by NAICS industry, county, or ownership sector.

Business Employment Dynamics (BED)

Purpose/uses

Program produces a quarterly series of gross job gains and gross job losses statistics based on the universe of establishments covered in the QCEW. Used in CES to track establishment-level expansions, contractions, openings, and closings.

Design basics

Data are constructed using a multistep procedure to link QCEW microdata across periods; about 6.7 million private-sector employers are covered. Data become available about 8 months after the end of a given quarter.

Frequency

Quarterly, panel (1992 to present).

Unit level

Establishment (can be aggregated to firm level with EIN).

Coverage

All establishments subject to state UI laws and federal agencies subject to the UCFE program (about 98% of all employment).

Content

Monthly employment and wages; full address; and number and percent of gross jobs gained by opening and expanding establishments, gross jobs lost by closing and contracting establishments, establishments that are classified as openings, closings, expansions, and contractions.

Limitations or lag time

Excludes government employees, certain nonprofit employees, self-employed, private households, and establishments with zero employment. UI coverage differs by state and may change over time. EINs are imperfect for creating record linkages.

Accessibility of data

As with QCEW, public-use microdata are not available. Researchers must submit proposals and data can only be used at the BLS research center in Washington, DC.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement