People Are Asking

How can I compare industry employment concentrations in different areas of the U.S.?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has added a powerful new tool for labor market analysis to its web site services in the Location Quotient Calculator. The new calculator generates location quotients, a measure that is familiar to regional labor economists as a way to readily compare the industrial activity levels among different areas of the country. In general, location quotients are ratios that compare the concentration of a resource or activity, such as employment, in a defined area to that of a larger area or base. For more information, please visit our Location Quotient Calculator information page

Does the QCEW program have data based on the new Metropolitan Area definitions?

Beginning in October 2004, the new Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) definitions, and the related Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) definitions of Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MicroSA) and Combined Statistical Areas (CSA) have become standard area definitions in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. These new area definitions were released by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in June 2003, and were updated in February and March of 2004. Previously released QCEW NAICS data based on the old MSA definitions have been moved to an archival FTP folder called "oldmsa".

The 2002 and 2003 MSA data currently available from the QCEW program are classified under the June 2003 (New) MSA definitions. The 2004 data, and the reconstructed historic NAICS based data for the years 1990 to 2000 are based on the March 2004 MSA definitions. Later, BLS will release files of 2001 data based on the February and March 2004 revisions to the MSA definitions, and will release revised 2002 and 2003 files to reflect the February and March revisions to the MSA definitions. Only a few MSAs defined in the June 2003 definitions were affected by the February and March 2004 definition changes. Significantly more MicroSAs and CSAs were affected by those definition changes.

In May 2004, BLS began the release of reconstructed NAICS based data for 1990 through 2000.  The reconstructed data is similar in scope and coverage to the 2001-forward NAICS data. The reconstructed MSA data is based on the revised Metropolitan Area definitions announced by OMB in February and March of 2004.  No old MSA definition data will be produced for inclusion with the 1990-2000 reconstructed NAICS basis data files.

For more information on the new Metropolitan Area definitions, please see this page from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program.

What are the most current QCEW data available?

QCEW data are available quarterly and annually. Quarterly data for selected series are released after we complete processing of the quarter, which is usually six to seven months after the end of the quarter.  Quarterly and annual data for all series are released approximately nine months after the end of the year. Monthly employment is included in this release.  See our section on Economic News Releases and Get Detailed Statistics for the latest QCEW data.

Are all jobs included in QCEW employment totals?

In 2001, employers in private industry provided State employment security agencies with quarterly tax reports on monthly employment, quarterly total and taxable wages, and contributions for an average of 109.3 million wage and salary jobs in approximately 7.7 million business establishments. Similar reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages were submitted by the Federal Government for 2.8 million civilian jobs, by State governments for 4.5 million jobs, and by local governments for 13.1 million jobs. Covered employment reported by these sources provided a virtual census (97.1 percent) of jobs on nonfarm payrolls.

Jobs that are exempt or otherwise not covered by unemployment insurance are not included in the QCEW tabulations. In 2001, in the private sector, this was approximately 0.1 million wage and salary agricultural employees, 1.2 million self-employed farmers, 8.6 million self-employed nonagricultural workers, 0.4 million domestic workers, and 0.1 million unpaid family workers. A further group of excluded private sector workers were the 0.2 million workers covered by the railroad unemployment insurance system. Additionally about 0.7 million State and local government workers were also excluded. Certain types of nonprofit employers, such as religious organizations, are given a choice of coverage or exclusion in a number of States, so data for their employees were reported to a limited degree.

What types of geographical information are available?

The QCEW/ES-202 program publishes data aggregated by the U.S. as a whole , State, metropolitan area (MA) and county, subject to disclosure restrictions.

Can I get access to QCEW confidential data?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has opportunities available on a limited basis for researchers from colleges and universities, government, and eligible nonprofit organizations to obtain access to confidential BLS data files for exclusively statistical purposes.  See this page on Researcher Access to Confidential Data Files for more details.


Last Modified Date: March 30, 2005