Economic News Release

County Employment and Wages Technical Note

Technical Note

These data are the product of a federal-state cooperative program, the Quarterly Census of Employment 
and Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The data are derived from summaries 
of employment and total pay of workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance (UI) 
legislation and provided by State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The summaries are a result of the 
administration of state unemployment insurance programs that require most employers to pay 
quarterly taxes based on the employment and wages of workers covered by UI. QCEW data in this 
release are based on the 2012 North American Industry Classification System. Data for 2014 are 
preliminary and subject to revision.

For purposes of this release, large counties are defined as having employment levels of 75,000 or 
greater. In addition, data for San Juan, Puerto Rico, are provided, but not used in calculating U.S. 
averages, rankings, or in the analysis in the text. Each year, these large counties are selected on the 
basis of the preliminary annual average of employment for the previous year. The 340 counties 
presented in this release were derived using 2013 preliminary annual averages of employment. For 2014 
data, five counties have been added to the publication tables: Shelby, Ala.; Osceola, Fla.; Black Hawk, 
Iowa; Washington, Minn.; and Cleveland, Okla. These counties will be included in all 2014 quarterly 
releases. The counties in table 2 are selected and sorted each year based on the annual average 
employment from the preceding year.

The preliminary QCEW data presented in this release may differ from data released by the individual 
states. These potential differences result from the states' continuing receipt of UI data over time and 
ongoing review and editing. The individual states determine their data release time-tables.

Differences between QCEW, BED, and CES employment measures

The Bureau publishes three different establishment-based employment measures for any given quarter. 
Each of these measures--QCEW, Business Employment Dynamics (BED), and Current Employment 
Statistics (CES)--makes use of the quarterly UI employment reports in producing data; however, each 
measure has a somewhat different universe coverage, estimation procedure, and publication product.

Differences in coverage and estimation methods can result in somewhat different measures of 
employment change over time. It is important to understand program differences and the intended uses 
of the program products. (See table.) Additional information on each program can be obtained from the 
program Web sites shown in the table.

Summary of Major Differences between QCEW, BED, and CES Employment Measures

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
            |         QCEW        |         BED          |         CES
 -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------
 Source     |--Count of UI admini-|--Count of longitudi- |--Sample survey:
            |  strative records   |  nally-linked UI ad- |  557,000 establish-
            |  submitted by 9.4   |  ministrative records|  ments
            |  million establish- |  submitted by 7.3    |
            |  ments in first     |  million private-sec-|
            |  quarter of 2014    |  tor employers       |
 -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------
 Coverage   |--UI and UCFE cover- |--UI coverage, exclud-|Nonfarm wage and sal-
            |  age, including all |  ing government, pri-|  ary jobs:
            |  employers subject  |  vate households, and|--UI coverage, exclud-
            |  to state and fed-  |  establishments with |  ing agriculture, pri-
            |  eral UI laws       |  zero employment     |  vate households, and
            |                     |                      |  self-employed workers
            |                     |                      |--Other employment, in-
            |                     |                      |  cluding railroads, 
            |                     |                      |  religious organiza-
            |                     |                      |  tions, and other non-
            |                     |                      |  UI-covered jobs
 -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------
 Publication|--Quarterly          |--Quarterly           |--Monthly 
 frequency  |  -6 months after the|  -8 months after the |  -Usually first Friday
            |   end of each quar- |   end of each quarter|   of following month
            |   ter               |                      |
 -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------
 Use of UI  |--Directly summarizes|--Links each new UI   |--Uses UI file as a sam-
 file       |  and publishes each |  quarter to longitu- |  pling frame and to an-
            |  new quarter of UI  |  dinal database and  |  nually realign sample-
            |  data               |  directly summarizes |  based estimates to pop-
            |                     |  gross job gains and |  ulation counts (bench- 
            |                     |  losses              |  marking)
 -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------
 Principal  |--Provides a quarter-|--Provides quarterly  |--Provides current month-
 products   |  ly and annual uni- |  employer dynamics   |  ly estimates of employ-
            |  verse count of es- |  data on establish-  |  ment, hours, and earn-
            |  tablishments, em-  |  ment openings, clos-|  ings at the MSA, state,
            |  ployment, and wages|  ings, expansions,   |  and national level by
            |  at the county, MSA,|  and contractions at |  industry
            |  state, and national|  the national level  |
            |  levels by detailed |  by NAICS supersec-  |
            |  industry           |  tors and by size of |
            |                     |  firm, and at the    |
            |                     |  state private-sector|
            |                     |  total level         |
            |                     |--Future expansions   |
            |                     |  will include data   |
            |                     |  with greater indus- |
            |                     |  try detail and data |
            |                     |  at the county and   |  
            |                     |  MSA level           |
 -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------
 Principal  |--Major uses include:|--Major uses include: |--Major uses include:
 uses       |  -Detailed locality |  -Business cycle     |  -Principal national
            |   data              |   analysis           |   economic indicator
            |  -Periodic universe |  -Analysis of employ-|  -Official time series 
            |   counts for bench- |   er dynamics under- |   for employment change
            |   marking sample    |   lying economic ex- |   measures
            |   survey estimates  |   pansions and con-  |  -Input into other ma-
            |  -Sample frame for  |   tractions          |   jor economic indi-
            |   BLS establishment |  -Analysis of employ-|   cators
            |   surveys           |   ment expansion and |
            |                     |   contraction by size|   
            |                     |   of firm            |
            |                     |                      |
 -----------|---------------------|----------------------|------------------------
 Program    |--www.bls.gov/cew/   |--www.bls.gov/bdm/    |--www.bls.gov/ces/
 Web sites  |                     |                      |
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------  

Coverage

Employment and wage data for workers covered by state UI laws are compiled from quarterly 
contribution reports submitted to the SWAs by employers. For federal civilian workers covered by the 
Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program, employment and wage data are 
compiled from quarterly reports submitted by four major federal payroll processing centers on behalf of 
all federal agencies, with the exception of a few agencies which still report directly to the individual 
SWA. In addition to the quarterly contribution reports, employers who operate multiple establishments 
within a state complete a questionnaire, called the "Multiple Worksite Report," which provides detailed 
information on the location and industry of each of their establishments. QCEW employment and wage 
data are derived from microdata summaries of 9.2 million employer reports of employment and wages 
submitted by states to the BLS in 2013. These reports are based on place of employment rather than 
place of residence.

UI and UCFE coverage is broad and has been basically comparable from state to state since 1978, when 
the 1976 amendments to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act became effective, expanding coverage to 
include most State and local government employees. In 2013, UI and UCFE programs covered workers in 
134.0 million jobs. The estimated 128.7 million workers in these jobs (after adjustment for multiple 
jobholders) represented 95.8 percent of civilian wage and salary employment. Covered workers received 
$6.673 trillion in pay, representing 93.7 percent of the wage and salary component of personal income 
and 39.8 percent of the gross domestic product.

Major exclusions from UI coverage include self-employed workers, most agricultural workers on small 
farms, all members of the Armed Forces, elected officials in most states, most employees of railroads, 
some domestic workers, most student workers at schools, and employees of certain small nonprofit 
organizations.

State and federal UI laws change periodically. These changes may have an impact on the employment 
and wages reported by employers covered under the UI program. Coverage changes may affect the 
over-the-year comparisons presented in this news release.

Concepts and methodology

Monthly employment is based on the number of workers who worked during or received pay for the pay 
period including the 12th of the month. With few exceptions, all employees of covered firms are 
reported, including production and sales workers, corporation officials, executives, supervisory 
personnel, and clerical workers. Workers on paid vacations and part-time workers also are included.

Average weekly wage values are calculated by dividing quarterly total wages by the average of the three 
monthly employment levels (all employees, as described above) and dividing the result by 13, for the 13 
weeks in the quarter. These calculations are made using unrounded employment and wage values. The 
average wage values that can be calculated using rounded data from the BLS database may differ from 
the averages reported. Included in the quarterly wage data are non-wage cash payments such as 
bonuses, the cash value of meals and lodging when supplied, tips and other gratuities, and, in some 
states, employer contributions to certain deferred compensation plans such as 401(k) plans and stock 
options. Over-the-year comparisons of average weekly wages may reflect fluctuations in average 
monthly employment and/or total quarterly wages between the current quarter and prior year levels.

Average weekly wages are affected by the ratio of full-time to part-time workers as well as the number 
of individuals in high-paying and low-paying occupations and the incidence of pay periods within a 
quarter. For instance, the average weekly wage of the workforce could increase significantly when there 
is a large decline in the number of employees that had been receiving below-average wages. Wages may 
include payments to workers not present in the employment counts because they did not work during 
the pay period including the 12th of the month. When comparing average weekly wage levels between 
industries, states, or quarters, these factors should be taken into consideration.

Wages measured by QCEW may be subject to periodic and sometimes large fluctuations. This variability 
may be due to calendar effects resulting from some quarters having more pay dates than others. The 
effect is most visible in counties with a dominant employer. In particular, this effect has been observed 
in counties where government employers represent a large fraction of overall employment. Similar 
calendar effects can result from private sector pay practices. However, these effects are typically less 
pronounced for two reasons: employment is less concentrated in a single private employer, and private 
employers use a variety of pay period types (weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, monthly).

For example, the effect on over-the-year pay comparisons can be pronounced in federal government 
due to the uniform nature of federal payroll processing. Most federal employees are paid on a biweekly 
pay schedule. As a result, in some quarters federal wages include six pay dates, while in other quarters 
there are seven pay dates. Over-the-year comparisons of average weekly wages may also reflect this 
calendar effect. Growth in average weekly wages may be attributed, in part, to a comparison of 
quarterly wages for the current year, which include seven pay dates, with year-ago wages that reflect 
only six pay dates. An opposite effect will occur when wages in the current quarter reflecting six pay 
dates are compared with year-ago wages for a quarter including seven pay dates.

In order to ensure the highest possible quality of data, states verify with employers and update, if 
necessary, the industry, location, and ownership classification of all establishments on a 3-year cycle. 
Changes in establishment classification codes resulting from this process are introduced with the data 
reported for the first quarter of the year. Changes resulting from improved employer reporting also are 
introduced in the first quarter.

QCEW data are not designed as a time series. QCEW data are simply the sums of individual 
establishment records and reflect the number of establishments that exist in a county or industry at a 
point in time. Establishments can move in or out of a county or industry for a number of reasons--some 
reflecting economic events, others reflecting administrative changes. For example, economic change 
would come from a firm relocating into the county; administrative change would come from a company 
correcting its county designation.

The over-the-year changes of employment and wages presented in this release have been adjusted to 
account for most of the administrative corrections made to the underlying establishment reports. This is 
done by modifying the prior-year levels used to calculate the over-the-year changes. Percent changes 
are calculated using an adjusted version of the final 2013 quarterly data as the base data. The adjusted 
prior-year levels used to calculate the over-the-year percent change in employment and wages are not 
published. These adjusted prior-year levels do not match the unadjusted data maintained on the BLS 
Web site. Over-the-year change calculations based on data from the Web site, or from data published in 
prior BLS news releases, may differ substantially from the over-the-year changes presented in this news 
release.

The adjusted data used to calculate the over-the-year change measures presented in this release 
account for most of the administrative changes--those occurring when employers update the industry, 
location, and ownership information of their establishments. The most common adjustments for 
administrative change are the result of updated information about the county location of individual 
establishments. Included in these adjustments are administrative changes involving the classification of 
establishments that were previously reported in the unknown or statewide county or unknown industry 
categories. Beginning with the first quarter of 2008, adjusted data account for administrative changes 
caused by multi-unit employers who start reporting for each individual establishment rather than as a 
single entity. Beginning with the second quarter of 2011, adjusted data account for selected large 
administrative changes in employment and wages. These new adjustments allow QCEW to include 
county employment and wage growth rates in this news release that would otherwise not meet 
publication standards.

The adjusted data used to calculate the over-the-year change measures presented in any County 
Employment and Wages news release are valid for comparisons between the starting and ending points 
(a 12-month period) used in that particular release. Comparisons may not be valid for any time period 
other than the one featured in a release even if the changes were calculated using adjusted data.
County definitions are assigned according to Federal Information Processing Standards Publications 
(FIPS PUBS) as issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, after approval by the 
Secretary of Commerce pursuant to Section 5131 of the Information Technology Management Reform 
Act of 1996 and the Computer Security Act of 1987, Public Law 104-106. Areas shown as counties 
include those designated as independent cities in some jurisdictions and, in Alaska, those designated as 
census areas where counties have not been created. County data also are presented for the New 
England states for comparative purposes even though townships are the more common designation 
used in New England (and New Jersey). The regions referred to in this release are defined as census 
regions.

Additional statistics and other information

Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online features comprehensive information by detailed 
industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. The 2012 edition of 
this publication, which was published in September 2013, contains selected data produced by Business 
Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data from the first quarter 2013 
version of this news release. Tables and additional content from Employment and Wages Annual 
Averages 2012 are now available online at http://www.bls.gov/cew/cewbultn12.htm. The 2013 edition 
of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online will be available in September 2014.

News releases on quarterly measures of gross job flows also are available upon request from the 
Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover (Business Employment Dynamics), telephone 
(202) 691-6467; (http://www.bls.gov/bdm/); (e-mail: BDMInfo@bls.gov).

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice 
phone: (202) 691-5200; TDD message referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.





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Last Modified Date: September 18, 2014
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