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QCEW Technical Notes


The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program (also known as ES-202) collects employment and wage data from employers covered by New York State's Unemployment Insurance (UI) Law. This program is a cooperative program with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. QCEW data encompass approximately 97 percent of New York's nonfarm employment, providing a virtual census of employees and their wages as well as the most complete universe of employment and wage data, by industry, at the State, regional and county levels.

"Covered" employment refers broadly to both private-sector employees as well as state, county, and municipal government employees insured under the New York State Unemployment Insurance (UI) Act. Federal employees are insured under separate laws, but are considered covered for the purposes of the program. Employee categories not covered by UI include some agricultural workers, railroad workers, private household workers, student workers, the self-employed, and unpaid family workers.

QCEW data are similar to monthly Current Employment Statistics (CES) data in that they reflect jobs by place of work; therefore, if a person holds two jobs, he or she is counted twice. However, since the QCEW program, by definition, only measures employment covered by unemployment insurance laws, its totals will not be the same as CES employment totals due to the employee categories excluded by UI.

About the Data

QCEW data are derived from quarterly tax reports submitted by all employers subject to UI laws. All covered employers are required to submit monthly employment figures representing the number of people either working during or receiving pay for the payroll period including the 12th of the month, and the total wages paid during the quarter. The QCEW program conducts ongoing surveys to verify the location and type of economic activity occurring at each of the more than 500,000 reporting units (establishments) in the state. An employer may operate in a number of different locations.

In New York State, QCEW report data are confidential. In order to ensure the anonymity of individual employers, employment and wage data are not released for any industry level in any location that a) consists of fewer than three reporting units; or b) contains a single unit that accounts for 80 percent or more of the industry's employment.

The first release of annual average QCEW data is typically scheduled for September of the subsequent year.

Definitions of QCEW Terms

Reporting Unit

Reporting Unit is an establishment, usually a single place of business, which is engaged in a single business activity, and operated by a single employer. Business firms operating more than one establishment, in which the sum of employment in secondary locations totals 10 or more persons, are required to submit a separate report for each unit unless the payrolls are not maintained separately. If two or more units of a single employer are in a single physical location, but maintain separate payroll records and engage in distinct or separate business activities, then each unit is treated as a separate reporting unit.


Employment data include all employment covered under the New York State UI program for each of the three months in the quarter. The employment count represents the number of full-time and part-time employees along with their earnings, wages, or salaries, for the payroll period including the 12th of the month. Included are persons on paid vacations or paid sick leave. Workers temporarily earning no wages due to labor-management disputes, layoffs or other reasons are not reported as employed. Persons on the payroll of more than one establishment during the same reference week are reported more than once.

Annual Average Employment

Annual Average Employment is the arithmetic mean of the employment reported for all 12 months of the year.

Total Wages

Total wages cover all wages and salaries paid to individuals in insured employment.

Annual Average Wage

Annual average wage is the sum of the wages for the four quarters of the year (total annual wages) divided by the annual average employment.

Industrial Classification

Industrial classification data are classified in accordance with the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which recently replaced the long-standing Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. See NAICS: Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.

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