The CES program is a high volume, quick turnaround survey of employment and wages. CES data are among the most timely, visible, and widely-used economic indicators available at the national, state, and metropolitan area levels. The monthly estimates are revised annually in a process referred to as Benchmarking.

The user of CES data needs to be aware of revisions made annually to the reported monthly estimates in the Benchmarking process.

Benchmark Cycle
The benchmark cycle is the 21- month period between April of the previous year and December of the current year. For most of the benchmark cycle, the CES estimates are replaced with Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) universe data; however, for the final months there is no QCEW data and CES estimates must be re-estimated from the sample. Thus, CES benchmark cycle is divided into two parts: the replacement period and the re-estimation period.

The Replacement Period
In the replacement period, employment estimates for each month are replaced with QCEW and estimated non-covered employment data back to April of the previous calendar year.

The Re-estimation Period
For the final three months of the benchmark cycle, QCEW data is not available and CES-estimates cannot be replaced with QCEW data. This gives rise to the re-estimation period where employment estimates are re-generated. The re-estimation period concludes the current benchmark cycle and establishes the employment level where all subsequent employment estimates will be based upon until the next benchmark cycle.

Example: In the 2013 benchmark cycle, the replacement period is April 2012 to September 2013 (Q2, 2012 through Q3, 2013). Finally, the re-estimation period consists of Q4, 2013.

image: CES benchmarking periods

Seasonal Adjustment
Seasonal adjustment values are updated each year during the benchmarking process.

See also Seasonal Adjustment FAQs

More information on CES benchmarking is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Joanna Frasch
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