The Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) are derived from state administrative records and basic demographic information from the Census Bureau. Employment totals from the QWI are not exactly comparable with those from other sources. Generally, coverage and definitions differ between the QWI and data about establishments from administrative records (e.g., the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages or QCEW), and about workers from urveys (e.g., the decennial census, the American Community Survey, and the Current Population Survey or CPS.) Detailed information is available in a paper by David Stevens. Employment that is not covered by state unemployment insurance laws, LEHD technical paper TP-2002-16 PDF icon (220 KB).


Just like the QCEW, the QWI count jobs, rather than employed workers (like the CPS). And, like the QCEW, the QWI do not include self employed workers and independent contractor employment, unlike the CPS. For a full description, see This link to a non-federal Web site does not imply endorsement of any particular product, company, or content. . But unlike the QCEW, the QWI count all jobs within a quarter (rather than just the 12th of the month), and so the job counts from the QCEW and the QWI will differ.

More specifically, the QWI capture the complexity of workforce dynamics. Because the LED data from which the QWI are derived include all the jobs a worker holds in each quarter, multiple definitions of employment are possible (just as there are multiple definitions of unemployment). The definitions include:

  1. All jobs held in a quarter, regardless of length of time the job is held;
  2. Jobs held at the beginning of a quarter -- the measure that is closest to that is the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. This measure also shows trends similar to those in surveys based on workers (such as the CPS) although the levels differ;
  3. Jobs held at the end of a quarter; and
  4. Jobs held for a full quarter (the most stable measure of employment).

The measurement of earnings differs among datasets. The earnings measures described here:

Because the QWI measures do not include the number of hours or weeks an employee worked, what appears as low average earnings for a time period and for an industry such as retail trade where much of the work is part time, may be the result of relatively low hourly wages, not working many hours in the time period, or both. This affects thee interpretation of the measure of average earnings. Similarly, high fourth quarter monthly earnings in some industries may reflect end-of-year bonuses and apparently high earnings for older workers may reflect one-time disbursements as they retire.


Because the data are updated afresh every quarter to reflect new information, the numbers on the website may differ from published reports (which reflected the best information available on the date of publication).




Total Employment

Total number of workers who were employed by the same employer in both the current and previous quarter


Answers the questions:

  • Who is filling what jobs?
  • What industries are biggest employers?
  • What industries employ the largest numbers of particular types of worker?


Job Change

Net Employment Change: The difference between current and previous employment at each business.

Answers the questions:

  • Which industries are expanding employment?
  • Which industries are contracting mployment?

Job Creation

The number of new jobs that are created by either new area businesses or the expansion of employment by existing firms.

Answers the questions:

  • What industries are creating the most jobs?

New Hires

Total number of accessions that were also not employed by that employer during the previous four quarters.

Answers the questions:

  • What industries are hiring the most workers?
  • Which industries are hiring older workers?
  • Which industries are hiring young workers?
  • What geographic areas are doing the most hiring?



Total number of workers who were employed by a business in the current quarter, but not in the subsequent quarter.

Answers the questions:

  • What workers are leaving jobs?
  • What industries are workers leaving?


Turnover Rate

Turnover Rate = (1/2) * (accessions + separations) / employment

(All Full Quarter Measures)

Answers the questions:

  • What proportion of workers are new to the job?

Average Monthly Earnings

Total quarterly earnings of all full-quarter employees divided by the number of full-quarter employees, divided by 3.

Answers the questions:

  • What are the average earnings of core employees?

Average New Hire Earnings

Total quarterly earnings of all full-quarter new hires divided by the number of full-quarter new hires, divided by 3.

Answers the questions:

  • What are new hires earning?


Note: Only 8 measures are posted to the website. 29 indicators are returned to the Labor Market Information agency in each state (check the QWI Online help and documentation for more information)


The Census Bureau and the state partners are committed to protecting the confidentiality of the data in the LED files. Technically, the approach to avoid disclosure of individual information is to combine cell suppression methodology, controlling key measures to county employment levels as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the addition of statistical noise which means that the statistics that are shown are fuzzy, that is, close to the actual information but not exact. In plainer English, while the statistical techniques the Census Bureau uses mean that final employment statistics are not shown if the numbers in a cell are small, it is not necessary to suppress information in other cells. In addition, measures such as job gains and losses, which do not identify an individual, can have numbers as small as one.

The meanings of the disclosure flags on the website are:


The Census Bureau and the state partners are committed to protecting the integrity of your information and producing the highest quality statistics. We accomplish this by ensuring that the LED program is consistent with the Census Bureau's legal authority and mission; that the methodologies used are the best alternatives; and by the demonstrated benefits of the LED program.

The state partners and the Census Bureau both benefit from the LED program. The state partners fulfill their mandate of providing high quality regional labor market information and the Census Bureau improves the economic and demographic survey estimates and intercensal population estimates. Specifically, the LED program supports Census Bureau research on improving the quality, use, and analysis of its census, survey and estimation-based data products.

Estimates of the employed population by demographic, geographic, and industrial detail directly allow the Census Bureau to benefit existing agency-wide programs. In particular, estimates of workers in each county and industry, in conjunction with statistical information about employers, will provide long-needed and critical but previously unavailable information for critical programs such as the demographic survey estimates and the intercensal population estimates program. Census Bureau programs will be enhanced byy new information on turnover, job creation, and job destruction, by age and sex, and information on the employment of individuals in each county.