Box: Quality Improvement in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Program and its Implications for Comparability Over Time

    Each year, approximately one-third of employers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) in Wyoming are contacted by mail questionnaire to confirm that they have been assigned to the correct industry category (e.g., Mining, Construction, Manufacturing) based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS; U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). If it is found that an employer has changed primary business activity, a different NAICS code is assigned to reflect that change. This is known as a noneconomic code change. 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 industry to another. For example, in Table 3, several employers were moved into Manufacturing from Mining and Construction explaining part of the employment increase in Manufacturing.  

    In a separate initiative to increase data quality, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages unit has contacted many employers with “nonclassified” geographic codes in order to place them within appropriate counties. This data quality effort has resulted in a significant decrease in employment in the “nonclassified” geographic designation, and corresponding employment increases in many counties throughout the state. While the long-run result will be higher-quality data, initially some of the employment increases at the county level may simply be the result of more accurate reporting, rather than actual increases in the number of jobs in those counties.  

    Finally, QCEW data is 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 second quarter 2004 was first published in January 2005 Wyoming Labor Force Trends, total employment was shown in the tables as 250,721, but the tables accompanying this article show second quarter 2004 total employment as 250,786, a revision of 65 jobs or 0.0%.  


U.S. Census Bureau. (2002, September 10). 2002 NAICS Codes and Titles. Retrieved December 18, 2003, from

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