Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Electronic Data Reporting

Chapter 4 - CES Reporting Procedures

This chapter contains specific procedures for CES reporting only. If you are reporting only for the MWR, you may skip this chapter and go directly to Chapter 5, MWR Reporting Procedures.

4.1 Creating the CES Standardized File

To create the CES standardized file, you need to create an ASCII text file, 350 characters long; containing a total of 41 fields (data elements). The first 17 fields are common to both the CES and MWR programs. The remaining 24 fields are unique to the CES program and contain economic data such as employment, payroll, and hours, and certain business identification information. See Appendix A for the CES standardized file format layout.

4.2 CES Reporting Level

The EDI Center needs comprehensive CES data to send to the State agencies to fulfill its reporting obligation to States. Any prospective EDI reporter should provide to the EDI Center all worksites for all its EINs including subsidiaries. If a firm is interested in EDI reporting, but may not be able to provide all payrolls electronically, please call the EDI Center to discuss.

As stated earlier (in Section 3.2), BLS prefers data to be reported at the establishment level. Because establishments in many organizations are not necessarily uniquely distinguished using the UI account number and the Reporting Unit Number, the CES program needs additional coding to uniquely identify the establishments. To accommodate different firms' organizational structures, the CES file format contains three codes, which can help, identify three possible levels of organization: the Division, Establishment, and Sub-establishment codes. Although CES requests information at the establishment level, you may report at the division or sub-establishment level if your records permit reporting only at these levels. The three organizational levels are defined below.

Division Code — The division code is used to identify any higher organizational level above the establishment level as defined above. For example, you may have a division comprised of a group of establishments engaged in a similar type of production, or a county or Statewide division, or an entire subsidiary as a division, etc.

Establishment Code — If your employment, payroll and hours data are maintained at the establishment level, please report for each establishment in a separate data record and include your establishment code for each unit. The establishment code may be any alpha or numeric string that uniquely identifies the establishment. For example, many firms assign a unique store number to each unit. The establishment code is required when reporting at the establishment or sub-establishment level. (See Section 4.3 for more information on payroll frequency.)

Sub-establishment Code — If your employment, payroll and hours data are maintained at the sub-establishment level (e.g., any smaller unit or section such as sales, marketing, or different payrolls, etc.), please report for each sub-establishment and include your sub-establishment code on each data record. Also, if you have employees paid at different payroll frequencies (e.g., some weekly and some bi-weekly) and maintain separate payroll information for each payroll frequency, report each payroll in a separate data record, entering the appropriate sub-establishment code for each payroll.

When reporting at the sub-establishment level, you MUST include the establishment code so that the sub-establishments can be aggregated into establishments. The sub-establishment code is required if you are reporting at the sub-establishment level.


The XYZ Corporation is divided into several divisions. The XYZ Corp. is reporting for Unit 24 which is located in the Eastern division. Unit 24 maintains two separate payrolls for its non-supervisory employees: a weekly and a monthly payroll. To report for two separate payrolls, the XYZ Corp. must generate a separate record for each payroll frequency.

On the first record, the reporting level should be as follows:

Division Code: Eastern
Establishment Code: Unit 24
Sub-establishment Code: Weekly

and on the second record:

Division Code: Eastern
Establishment Code: Unit 24
Sub-establishment Code: Monthly

If Unit 24 is unique across all divisions, then the Division Code would not be required. The three reporting level codes above are the firm's internal codes. They may be alpha or numeric. It is important that they be consistently reported from month to month in order for us to accurately process your data. If your internal code structure changes, please let us know immediately.

4.3 Payroll Frequency

Payroll frequency varies across firms. For example, some firms pay their employees weekly, while others pay monthly. Most large multi-unit establishments have multiple pay frequencies. If you have multiple payroll frequencies, you should report each frequency as a separate data record rather than aggregating them into a single frequency. The CES standard file format accommodates separate reporting of each payroll frequency.

4.4 CES Data Items by Industry

The CES data items that you will include in the data records will depend on the specific industry of each establishment unit within your firm. The CES data items for each industry are included in the following table. "X" indicates the data items collected in each industry. For a complete description of each data element see Appendix C.

CES Data Items by Industry

Data Items Industry
Natural Resources
and Mining
All Employees X X X X
All Employee Payroll X X X X
All Employee Hours X X X X
All Employee Overtime
All Employee Commissions X X X X
Gross Monthly Earnings (for the Entire Previous Month) X X X X
Non-Supervisory Employees X
Non-Supervisory Employees
Non-Supervisory Employee
Non-Supervisory Employee
Production Workers X X
Production Worker Payroll X X
Production Worker Hours X X
Production Worker Overtime Hours X
Production Worker Commissions X X
Construction Workers X
Construction Worker Payroll X
Construction Worker Hours X
Construction Worker


* Includes industries such as trade, transportation, public utilities, finance, insurance, services, and real estate.

The definition of payroll is the same across all industries, with the only distinction being that CES collects payroll data for different categories of employees, depending on the firm's industry. For example, CES collects payroll and hours for Production Workers in the manufacturing and natural resources and mining industries, whereas in the services-providing industries it collects payroll and hours for Non-Supervisory Employees.

The CES data items are defined in greater detail in Appendices A and C. If you cannot provide these data as defined, please let us know and appropriate adjustments may be made.

4.5 Transmittal Due Dates

The CES survey involves collection, estimation, and publication of time-critical economic information on a monthly basis. On the first Friday of each month, BLS must publish the employment estimates for the previous month. In order to meet this strict deadline, BLS needs to receive the CES information from firms as soon as they are available.

Any transmission, which does not meet the initial deadline, will be used, as CES publishes revised estimates at designated intervals following the initial release. Therefore, it is important that all transmissions be sent as soon as the data are available.

Timely transmission will depend on several factors, one of which is the firm's payroll frequency. For example, a firm's transmission comprised of reports from multiple establishment locations with different payroll frequencies could be delayed if an establishment cannot meet the deadline. Employers should provide as much information as possible prior to the deadline, rather than waiting for a late establishment report. The late establishment report can be transmitted as soon as it is available.

The EDI Center will provide the firm with the exact transmission date for each month.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Appendix A, B, C, D, E, F

Last Modified Date: September 27, 2005

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