Quality Improvement in the QCEW Program and its Implications for Comparability Over Time

By: David Bullard, Senior Economist

Each year approximately one-fourth of employers with four or more employees covered by Wyoming Unemployment Insurance (UI) are contacted by mail questionnaire to confirm that they have been assigned to the correct county and industry category (e.g., mining, construction, manufacturing) based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS; U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). If it is found that an employer has changed primary business activity, a different NAICS code is assigned to reflect that change. If the primary work location has moved to another county, the county code is changed. These are known as noneconomic code changes.

Research staff also review employers' NAICS codes if the business is sold, becomes incorporated, or otherwise changes ownership. In this manner, Research & Planning continuously ensures that employers are assigned to the correct industry category. However, these noneconomic code changes also make it difficult for data users to make direct comparisons across years. Sometimes, large employers may move from one NAICS sector to another.

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data are usually published six to nine months after the end of the reference quarter. The deadline for employers to file their quarterly unemployment insurance contributions report is one month after the end of the quarter (fourth quarter ended December 31 and the taxes were due on January 31). Then the data must be scanned, edited, and cleaned up. Missing reports must be researched and errors corrected. Despite the time lag, QCEW provides employment and wage data at the county and industry level that are not available from any other source.

Each quarter, QCEW data are revised to reflect the receipt of late reports and corrections from employers. At the total level, these revisions are usually quite small. For example, when data for fourth quarter 2009 were first published in July 2010 Wyoming Labor Force Trends, total employment was shown in the tables as 269,365. However, the tables accompanying the article beginning on page 1 show fourth quarter 2009 total employment as 269,439, a revision of 74 jobs (0.0%).


U.S. Census Bureau. (2007, August 28). 2007 NAICS codes and titles. Retrieved March 16, 2011, from http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/NAICOD07.HTM

Last modified by Phil Ellsworth.