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Feb 7 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) solicits comments by April 8, 2024 concerning the proposed extension of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, a Federal/State cooperative effort, produces monthly employment and quarterly wage information. It is a by-product of quarterly reports submitted to State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) by employers subject to State Unemployment Insurance (UI) laws. The collection of these data is authorized by 29 U.S.C. The QCEW data, which are compiled for each calendar quarter, provide a comprehensive business name and address file with employment and wage information for employers subject to State UI laws. Similar data for Federal Government employers covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program also are included. These data are submitted to the BLS by all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The BLS summarizes these data to produce totals for all counties, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), the States, and the nation. The QCEW program provides a virtual census of nonagricultural employees and their wages, with about 55 percent of the workers in agriculture covered as well.

The QCEW program is a comprehensive and accurate source of data on the number of establishments, monthly employment, and quarterly wages, by industry, at the six-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) level, and at the national, State, MSA, and county levels. The QCEW series has broad economic significance in measuring labor trends and major industry developments, in time series analyses and industry comparisons, and in special studies such as analyses of establishments, employment, and wages by size of establishment.

Office of Management and Budget clearance is being sought for the QCEW program.

The QCEW program implemented improvements to the methods used to impute data for missing employer reports starting in October 2020. The current method of imputation uses current trends from responding establishments with characteristics similar to the non–respondents. The BLS defines this procedure as the Cell Ratio Method. The ratio of a particular estimation cell is computed as the sum of the current month's reported employment divided by the sum of the previous month's reported employment. To impute this month's employment for a non-respondent, the ratio is then multiplied by the non-respondent's previous month employment. A similar procedure is applied to impute average quarterly wages.

The QCEW program is the only Federal statistical program that provides information on establishments, wages, tax contributions and the number of employees subject to State UI laws and the Unemployment Compensation for the Federal Employees program. The consequences of not collecting QCEW data would be grave to the Federal statistical community. The BLS would not have a sampling frame for its establishment surveys; it would not be able to publish as accurate current estimates of employment for the US, States, and metropolitan areas; and it would not be able to publish quarterly census totals of local establishment counts, employment, and wages. The Bureau of Economic Analysis would not be able to publish as accurate personal income data in a timely manner for the U.S., States, and local areas. Finally, the Department of Labor's Employment Training Administration would not have the information it needs to administer the Unemployment Insurance Program.

In order to operate within prescribed funding levels, the QCEW program relaxed performance requirements.  It removed requirements for geocoding and for reviewing and resolving predecessor/successor events.  It also removed the requirement for reviewing and verifying all imputations for units with 100 and greater employees prior to each quarter's EQUI.  Additionally, the QCEW program split the requirement for reporting in county codes 995 and 999 into two separate requirements, effectively raising the allowable thresholds.

QCEW: https://www.bls.gov/cew/
Methodology: https://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/cew/
Draft data collection and technical documentation: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/azp536e2pgpns07pn1lv4/h?rlkey=bveh4gc1flhucn7b1vqso71ai&dl=0
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-02439

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