County Employment and Wages Technical Note

Technical Note 
 These data are the product of a federal-state cooperative program, the Quarterly 
Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The 
data are derived from summaries of employment and total pay of workers covered by 
state and federal unemployment insurance (UI) legislation and provided by State 
Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The summaries are a result of the administration of state 
unemployment insurance programs that require most employers to pay quarterly taxes 
based on the employment and wages of workers covered by UI. QCEW data in this re-
lease are based on the 2007 North American Industry Classification System. Data for 
2007 are preliminary and subject to revision. 

 For purposes of this release, large counties are defined as having employment lev-
els of 75,000 or greater. In addition, data for San Juan, Puerto Rico, are provided, 
but not used in calculating U.S. averages, rankings, or in the analysis in the text. 
Each year, these large counties are selected on the basis of the preliminary annual 
average of employment for the previous year. The 329 counties presented in this re-
lease were derived using 2006 preliminary annual averages of employment. For 2007 
data, four counties have been added to the publication tables: Butte, Calif., Tippe-
canoe, Ind., Saratoga, N.Y., and Williamson, Tenn. These counties have been included 
in all 2007 quarterly releases. One county, Boone, Ky., which was published in the 
2006 releases, has been excluded from all 2007 releases because its 2006 annual av-
erage employment level was less than 75,000. The counties in table 2 are selected 
and sorted each year based on the annual average employment from the preceding year. 

 The preliminary QCEW data presented in this release may differ from data released 
by the individual states. These potential differences result from the states' con-
tinuing receipt of UI data over time and ongoing review and editing. The individual 
states determine their data release timetables. 
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--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 dif-
ferences and the intended uses of the program products. (See table.) Additional in-
formation on each program can be obtained from the program Web sites shown in the 
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- |  400,000 establish-
            |  submitted by 9.1   |  ministrative records|  ments
            |  million establish- |  submitted by 6.9    |
            |  ments              |  million private-sec-|
            |                     |  tor employers       |
 Coverage   |--UI and UCFE cover- |--UI coverage, exclud-|Nonfarm wage and sal-
            |  age, including all |  ing government, pri-|  ary jobs:
            |  employers subject  |  vate households, and|--UI coverage, exclud-
            |  to state and fed-  |  establishments with |  ing agriculture, pri-
            |  eral UI laws       |  zero employment     |  vate households, and
            |                     |                      |  self-employed workers
            |                     |                      |--Other employment, in-
            |                     |                      |  cluding railroads, 
            |                     |                      |  religious organiza-
            |                     |                      |  tions, and other non-
            |                     |                      |  UI-covered jobs
 Publication|--Quarterly          |--Quarterly           |--Monthly 
 frequency  |  -7 months after the|  -8 months after the |  -Usually first Friday
            |   end of each quar- |   end of each quarter|   of following month
            |   ter               |                      |
 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 annu-
            |  new quarter of UI  |  dinal database and  |  ally realigns (bench-
            |  data               |  directly summarizes |  marks) sample esti-
            |                     |  gross job gains and |  mates to first quar-
            |                     |  losses              |  ter UI levels
 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, MSA,|  and contractions at |  industry
            |  state, and national|  the national level  |
            |  levels by detailed |  by NAICS supersec-  |
            |  industry           |  tors and by size of |
            |                     |  firm, and at the    |
            |                     |  state private-sector|
            |                     |  total level         |
            |                     |--Future expansions   |
            |                     |  will include data   |
            |                     |  with greater indus- |
            |                     |  try 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 national
            |   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    |   |    |
 Web sites  |                     |                      |


 Employment and wage data for workers covered by state UI laws are compiled from 
quarterly contribution reports submitted to the SWAs by employers. For federal ci-
vilian workers covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) 
program, employment and wage data are compiled from quarterly reports submitted by 
four major federal payroll processing centers on behalf of all federal agencies, 
with the exception of a few agencies which still report directly to the individual 
SWA. In addition to the quarterly contribution reports, employers who operate multi-
ple establishments within a state complete a questionnaire, called the "Multiple 
Worksite Report," which provides detailed information on the location and industry 
of each of their establishments. The employment and wage data included in this re-
lease are derived from microdata summaries of 9.1 million employer reports of em-
ployment and wages submitted by states to the BLS. 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.  In 
2006, UI and UCFE programs covered workers in 133.8 million jobs. The estimated 
128.9 million workers in these jobs (after adjustment for multiple jobholders) rep-
resented 96.4 percent of civilian wage and salary employment. Covered workers re-
ceived $5.693 trillion in pay, representing 94.3 percent of the wage and salary com-
ponent of personal income and 43.1 percent of the gross domestic product. 

 Major exclusions from UI coverage include self-employed workers, 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. 

 State and federal UI laws change periodically. These changes may have an impact on 
the employment and wages reported by employers covered under the UI program. Cover-
age changes may affect the over-the-year comparisons presented in this news release. 
Concepts and methodology 

 Monthly employment is based on the number of workers who worked during or received 
pay for the pay period including the 12th of the month. With few exceptions, all em-
ployees of covered firms are reported, including production and sales workers, cor-
poration officials, executives, supervisory personnel, and clerical workers.  Work-
ers on paid vacations and part-time workers also are included. 

 Average weekly wage values are calculated by dividing quarterly total wages by the 
average of the three monthly employment levels (all employees, as described above) 
and dividing the result by 13, for the 13 weeks in the quarter. These calculations 
are made using unrounded employment and wage values. The average wage values that 
can be calculated using rounded data from the BLS database may differ from the aver-
ages reported. Included in the quarterly wage data are non-wage cash payments such 
as bonuses, the cash value of meals and lodging when supplied, tips and other gra-
tuities, and, in some states, employer contributions to certain deferred compensa-
tion plans such as 401(k) plans and stock options. Over-the-year comparisons of av-
erage weekly wages may reflect fluctuations in average monthly employment and/or to-
tal quarterly wages between the current quarter and prior year levels. 

 Average weekly wages are affected by the ratio of full-time to part-time workers 
as well as the number of individuals in high-paying and low-paying occupations and 
the incidence of pay periods within a quarter. For instance, the average weekly wage 
of the work force could increase significantly when there is a large decline in the 
number of employees that had been receiving below-average wages. Wages may include 
payments to workers not present in the employment counts because they did not work 
during the pay period including the 12th of the month. When comparing average weekly 
wage levels between industries, states, or quarters, these factors should be taken 
into consideration. 

 Federal government pay levels are subject to periodic, sometimes large, fluctua-
tions due to a calendar effect that consists of some quarters having more pay peri-
ods than others. Most federal employees are paid on a biweekly pay schedule. As a 
result of this schedule, in some quarters, federal wages contain payments for six 
pay periods, while in other quarters their wages include payments for seven pay pe-
riods. Over-the-year comparisons of average weekly wages may reflect this calendar 
effect. Higher growth in average weekly wages may be attributed, in part, to a com-
parison of quarterly wages for the current year, which include seven pay periods, 
with year-ago wages that reflect only six pay periods. An opposite effect will occur 
when wages in the current period, which contain six pay periods, are compared with 
year-ago wages that include seven pay periods. The effect on over-the-year pay com-
parisons can be pronounced in federal government due to the uniform nature of fed-
eral payroll processing. This pattern may exist in private sector pay; however, be-
cause there are more pay period types (weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, monthly) it is 
less pronounced. The effect is most visible in counties with large concentrations of 
federal employment. 

 In order to ensure the highest possible quality of data, states verify with em-
ployers and update, if necessary, the industry, location, and ownership classifica-
tion of all establishments on a 4-year cycle. Changes in establishment classifica-
tion codes resulting from this 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. 

 QCEW data are not designed as a time series. QCEW data are simply the sums of in-
dividual establishment records and reflect the number of establishments that exist 
in a county or industry at a point in time. Establishments can move in or out of a 
county or industry for a number of reasons--some reflecting economic events, others 
reflecting administrative changes. For example, economic change would come from a 
firm relocating into the county; administrative change would come from a company 
correcting its county designation. 

 The over-the-year changes of employment and wages presented in this release have 
been adjusted to account for most of the administrative corrections made to the un-
derlying establishment reports. This is done by modifying the prior-year levels used 
to calculate the over-the-year changes. Percent changes are calculated using an ad-
justed version of the final 2006 quarterly data as the base data. The adjusted 
prior-year levels used to calculate the over-the-year percent change in employment 
and wages are not published. These adjusted prior-year levels do not match the unad-
justed data maintained on the BLS Web site. Over-the-year change calculations based 
on data from the Web site, or from data published in prior BLS news releases, may 
differ substantially from the over-the-year changes presented in this news release.

 The adjusted data used to calculate the over-the-year change measures presented in 
this release account for most of the administrative changes--those occurring when 
employers update the industry, location, and ownership information of their estab-
lishments. The most common adjustments for administrative change are the result of 
updated information about the county location of individual establishments. Included 
in these adjustments are administrative changes involving the classification of es-
tablishments that were previously reported in the unknown or statewide county or un-
known industry categories. The adjusted data do not account for administrative 
changes caused by multi-unit employers who start reporting for each individual es-
tablishment rather than as a single entity.

 The adjusted data used to calculate the over-the-year change measures presented in 
any County Employment and Wages news release are valid for comparisons between the 
starting and ending points (a 12-month period) used in that particular release. Com-
parisons may not be valid for any time period other than the one featured in a re-
lease even if the changes were calculated using adjusted data. 

 County definitions are assigned according to Federal Information Processing Stan-
dards Publications (FIPS PUBS) as issued by the National Institute of Standards and 
Technology, after approval by the Secretary of Commerce pursuant to Section 5131 of 
the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 and the Computer Security 
Act of 1987, Public Law 104-106. Areas shown as counties include those designated as 
independent cities in some jurisdictions and, in Alaska, those designated as census 
areas where counties have not been created. County data also are presented for the 
New England states for comparative purposes even though townships are the more com-
mon designation used in New England (and New Jersey). The regions referred to in 
this release are defined as census regions. 
Additional statistics and other information 

 An annual bulletin, Employment and Wages, features comprehensive information by 
detailed industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all 
states. The 2006 edition of this bulletin contains selected data produced by Busi-
ness Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data 
from the first quarter 2007 version of this news release. As with the 2005 edition, 
this edition includes the data on a CD for enhanced access and usability with the 
printed booklet containing selected graphic representations of QCEW data; the data 
tables themselves have been published exclusively in electronic formats as PDFs. The 
2006 bulletin is available in a PDF on the BLS Web site at 

 News releases on quarterly measures of gross job flows also are available upon re-
quest from the Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover (Business 
Employment Dynamics), telephone (202) 691-6467; (; (e-mail: 

 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-

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Last Modified Date: July 24, 2008