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Use Of Administrative Records In The Bureau Of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (ES‐202) Program

Tracy E. Farmer and Michael A. Searson


For nearly 50 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other Federal statistical agencies have been using the employment and wages data generated from the administrative records of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system of the State Employment Security Agencies as a key component of their statistical programs. Since State and Federal UI coverage of workers in this country is approximately 96 percent of nonagricultural employment, the Covered Employment and Wages (ES-202) program provides a virtual universe count each quarter by detailed industrial and geographical classifications. The use of these administrative records provides BLS with an existing mechanism of data collection, editing and compilation that limits the program costs and employer burden. In addition to these advantages, there are also certain difficulties associated with using these data.

The UI program is operational in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and these States must adhere to selected Federal guidelines; however, the States also have varying flexibility in administering their own programs.

This paper describes how BLS deals with existing State differences to insure a uniform set of standards for the administrative records that comprise this important statistical program. The paper will also review the State's and Bureau actions to deal with the ever changing employer/employee relationship and the increasing employer use of payroll/tax agents or leased payroll/tax software to prepare various reports for the State and Federal entities. Keywords: Unemployment Insurance, State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs or States), Multiple Worksite Report, Quarterly Contribution Report, Status Determination Form.