© Copyright 2005 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 42 No. 4    



Comparability of Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) Data Over Time

by: David Bullard, Senior Economist


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 sector to another. For example, in Table 3, several employers were moved out of Administrative & Waste Services into other industries, explaining much of the employment decline in Administrative & Waste Services.

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 (see Table 4). 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 the counties. An example of this involves a large employer in the oil & gas sector that recently started reporting employment on a county, rather than a statewide basis. This has increased Mining employment in Sweetwater, Natrona, Washakie, and Uinta counties.


U.S. Census Bureau. (2002, September 10). 2002 NAICS Codes and Titles. Retrieved December 18, 2003, from http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/naicod02.htm 


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