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May 8 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) invites comments to OMB by June 7, 2024 concerning its proposed extension of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Program.

The QCEW program, a complex Federal/State cooperative effort, produces monthly employment and quarterly wage information.  It is based on 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 USC Sections 1 and 2 and Section 15 of the Wagner-Peyser Act.  

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 employees covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program (UCFE) also are included.  These data are submitted to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  The BLS then 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.

The QCEW program is unique in the Federal statistical system.  It provides the most current and only universe of monthly employment and quarterly wage information by industry, county, MSA, State, and the nation, covering both private and public sectors.  It serves as the BLS business register and sampling frame and employment benchmark.  It serves the other two major federal economic statistical agencies (the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the U.S. Census Bureau) in significant and quantifiable ways.  It directly supports other agencies including the Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration (ETA) and the Social Security Administration.  The QCEW survey is estimated to cover approximately 11.5 million establishments in 2022.  The series have broad economic significance in evaluating labor trends and major industry developments in time-series analyses and industry comparisons, and in special studies such as analyses of wages by size of establishment.  It also is used to provide new data products, such as the Business Employment Dynamics (BED), and other products are under research work including foreign direct investment and the role of multi-national corporations.

Within the BLS, the QCEW serves five major purposes.  First, it is the BLS business register and business sampling frame for the Current Employment Statistics (CES), the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS), the Occupational Safety and Health Statistics/Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHS/SOII), the National Compensation Survey (NCS), the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), and portions of the Producer Price Index (PPI).  Second, the QCEW data are used as the basic employment benchmark information by industry, and geographical area in the CES, OEWS, and OSHS programs.  Third, it is a major source of published data, providing both quarterly releases on cross-sectional data and quarterly BED data from the longitudinally linked microdata stretching from 1990 to the present.  BED data measure quarterly employer dynamics for establishment openings, closings, expansions, and contractions for the U.S. by major industry, by size of firm, for each state.  In addition, data are also available for industries at the 3-digit NAICS level, for annual data, by size of employment change, and for business births and deaths.  New data on business age and survival are also available for the states and nation.  Fourth, the QCEW is a highly prized research database attracting projects ranging from minimum wage studies to data on non-profits, measuring the “ocean economy” to studying offshoring.  Fifth, the business establishment locations are geocoded, which provides precise latitude and longitude coordinates allowing special mapping capabilities as well as research in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on location substitution.  Thus, the investment in its data accuracy and timeliness is critical to meeting the demands of a wide range of internal uses and users.

Within the Department of Labor, the QCEW supports the ETA in two major ways.  First, the QCEW provides data necessary to both the ETA and the State UI agencies in administering the employment security program.  The data accurately reflect the extent of coverage of the State unemployment laws and are used to measure UI revenues; national, State, and local area employment; and total and taxable wage trends.  The information is used as an input for actuarial studies, determination of experience ratings, maximum benefit levels, and areas needing Federal assistance.  It also assists in determining the solvency of UI funds.  Secondly, the QCEW is the sampling frame for the ETA National Agricultural Worker Survey (NAWS).

QCEW: https://www.bls.gov/cew/
BLS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202401-1220-001 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-09972

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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