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Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW)

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program publishes a quarterly count of employment and wages reported by employers, covering approximately 95 percent of wage and salary workers (not including self-employment). It is available at the county, MSA, state and national levels by industry. Data from this series include: ownership, number of units, average number of workers, total wages, and a calculated average weekly wage. Employment activity is reported at the location of the employment. Indiana produces several slightly different data series detailing industry employment.

Source: Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What types of data are collected and reported by the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program?
    The QCEW program derives its data from quarterly tax reports submitted to state employment security agencies by over 8 million employers subject to state unemployment insurance (UI) laws and from federal agencies subject to the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. This includes approximately 95 percent of wage and salary workers (not including self-employment). These reports provide information on the number of people employed and the wages paid to the employees each quarter. The program obtains information on the location and industrial activity of each reported establishment and assigns location and standard industrial classification codes accordingly. This establishment level information is aggregated by industry code to the county level and to higher aggregate levels.
  • Is all information fully disclosed to the public?
    BLS withholds publication of data when necessary to protect the identity and data of cooperating employers. Since QCEW gets reports from every employer in the United States, there are many cases where QCEW detailed data could consist of one or two employers. These data are withheld or "suppressed" in QCEW publications.  Totals at the industry level for the states and the nation include the nondisclosable data suppressed within the detailed tables. However, these totals cannot be used to reveal the suppressed data.
  • Is company size data available from QCEW?
    No, QCEW does not collect data based on company size.  The Census Bureau publishes enterprise size data in its Statistics of U.S. Businesses.  However, QCEW does have size data at the establishment level (see below). 
  • Does the QCEW program have data by establishment size class?
    Yes. For the first quarter of each year, data are tabulated by establishment size class. The size category of each establishment is determined by the March employment level. These size class data are available at the national level by NAICS industry and at the state level by NAICS sector. It is important to note that each establishment of a multi-establishment firm is tabulated separately into the appropriate size category. The total employment level of the reporting multi-establishment firm is not used in the size tabulation.
  • What is the difference between employers and establishments (units)?
    An employer can have one or more establishments. A large manufacturer, for example, might have several manufacturing plants, and each one would be considered a separate establishment. An establishment is an economic unit (such as a farm, mine, factory, or store) that produces goods or provides services. It is typically at a single physical location and engaged in one, or predominantly one, type of economic activity for which a single industrial classification may be applied. Occasionally, a single physical location encompasses two or more distinct and significant activities. Each activity should be reported as a separate establishment if separate records are kept and the various activities are classified under different NAICS industries. QCEW collects data at the establishment level whenever possible.
  • Does the Indiana Department of Workforce Development provide information on the number of employees in particular companies?
    No. Company information is not revealed. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development collects data under a pledge of confidentiality.
  • Is there any employment that is not included in the QCEW data?
    Jobs that are exempt or otherwise not covered by unemployment insurance are not included in the tabulations. In the private sector, this could include some wage and salary agricultural employees, self-employed farmers, self-employed nonagricultural workers, domestic workers, and unpaid family workers. Private sector workers covered by the railroad unemployment insurance system, as well as members of the armed forces are excluded. Some students and spouses of students employed by schools, colleges, and universities are also excluded. Certain types of nonprofit employers, such as religious organizations, are given a choice of coverage or exclusion, so data for their employees are reported to a limited degree.
  • What is included in total wages?
    Covered employers in most states report total compensation paid during the calendar quarter, regardless of when the services were performed. A few state laws, however, specify that wages be reported based on the period during which services are performed rather than the period during which compensation is paid. Under most state laws, wages include bonuses, stock options, profit distributions, the cash value of meals and lodging, tips and other gratuities. In some states, employer contributions to certain deferred compensation plans, such as 401(k) plans, are also included.
  • What is the relationship between ES-202, Covered Employment and Wages, and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages?
    The name Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) was adopted in 2003. The QCEW program is often referred to as the ES-202 program, derived from an obsolete transmittal with that number that was part of the Employment Security (Unemployment Insurance) program. Before changing the name to QCEW, it was known as the Covered Employment and Wages program because of BLS’s focus on jobs covered by the Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Coverage for Federal Employees programs.