These data present 2001-current employment and wages information as defined in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The data pertain to workers covered by Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance (UI) laws and Federal civilian workers covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. The information for both private and public sector workers are reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) as part of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), or ES-202, program

It includes 98% of the jobs at the National, State, and county levels and is published four times a year. The data is usually available approximately 6 months after the end of the calendar quarter. Excluded from QCEW data are members of the armed forces, the self-employed, proprietors, unpaid family workers, and railroad workers covered by the railroad unemployment insurance system. Wages include the total paid in each calendar quarter. See the BLS website for a complete description of the QCEW program data.

Wisconsin employers in private industry provide DWD with quarterly tax reports on monthly employment, quarterly total and taxable wages, and contributions for wage and salaried employees. State and local governments submit reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages, and the Federal government submit similar reports for civilian employees. Covered employment reported by these sources provides a virtual census of payroll employment-about 155,000 business establishments and 2.7 million employees. The principal exclusions from UI and UCFE coverage are cited in "Characteristics and Uses of the Data," below.

Quarterly data are presented for the state and counties by ownership and industry and include the Number of units, employment by month, total wages, and average weekly wage. Annual data are forthcoming.

Data Uses

The QCEW covered employment and wages data are the most complete universe of monthly employment and quarterly wage information by detailed industry at the national, State, and county levels. They have broad economic significance in evaluating labor market trends and major industry developments, in time series analyses, and in making industry comparisons.

For example, the QCEW program outputs are instrumental in determining Federal allocations of program grants to State and local governments. Furthermore, these outputs serve as the basic source of benchmark information for employment by industry and employment by size of establishment in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, and the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Statistics program. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the Department of Commerce uses QCEW wage data as a base for estimating a large part of the wage and salary component of personal income accounts. The Social Security Administration and State governments also use QCEW data in updating economic assumptions and forecasting trends in their taxable wage base. Business and public and private research organizations find the QCEW program one of the best sources available of detailed employment and wage statistics.

The QCEW program produces data necessary to both the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the various State Employment Security Agencies in administering the employment security program. The data accurately reflect the extent of coverage of the State unemployment laws and are used to measure UI revenues; national, state and local area employment; and total and taxable wage trends.

QCEW data are used by businesses and by public and private research organizations as one of the best sources of detailed employment and wage statistics for economic forecasting, industry and regional analysis, impact studies, and other uses. The BLS provides useful tools for examining QCEW data. Visit the Business Employment Dynamics Data or BED for more State specific data.

Characteristics of the Data

These data are compiled as part of the operation of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, or ES-202, program. The data are derived from the quarterly tax reports submitted to DWD by Wisconsin employers subject to State unemployment insurance (UI) laws and from Federal agencies subject to the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. Each quarter, DWD edits, analyzes, and processes the data and sends the information to BLS in Washington, DC.

Unemployment Insurance Laws and Coverage

State unemployment insurance programs, the primary source of ES-202 covered employment and wages data, have relatively comprehensive coverage in the United States labor force. Approximately 96 percent of the wage and salary civilian labor force and 98 percent of nonagricultural employment are covered by State UI laws, and so are reflected in ES-202 data.

States establish their own unemployment insurance coverage provisions, generally in accordance with the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). The FUTA establishes minimum coverage standards that States must meet to have an approved UI program. FUTA provisions determine which employers are subject to Federal unemployment insurance taxes and designate certain types of services that must be covered under State UI laws to meet Federal approval. Specific coverage provisions of State UI laws have been influenced by the FUTA through tax incentives. The incentives allow employers who pay UI contributions under federally approved State unemployment insurance law to credit their State contributions against a specified percentage of the Federal tax.

Coverage exclusions in the FUTA, however, do not preclude a State from covering the excluded class or category of workers under their own State laws. Many States have chosen to expand their coverage provisions beyond the FUTA minimum standards in certain areas. A summary of common coverage exclusions is provided below. Detailed UI coverage information can be found in the Comparison of State Unemployment Insurance Laws maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.

Both Federal and State UI coverage laws are subject to change at any time when existing laws are amended through the legislative process or reinterpreted through judicial action

Common Exclusions from UI Coverage

1. As defined by Federal and State UI laws, employment is the hiring of workers by others for wages. Self-employed individuals are therefore excluded from coverage. Incorporated self-employed persons, however, are covered because corporations are recognized as separate legal entities from the individual, thereby allowing the individual to be an employee of his/her own corporation.

2. Some coverage exclusions result from the scope in which an "employer" is defined. The FUTA defines an employer generally as one who has a quarterly payroll of $1500 in the calendar or preceding year or who has one worker for 20 weeks. Thirty-three States have adopted this definition. Ten States have the broadest possible coverage by defining an employer as one who has any covered service in their employ. The other States have requirements of fewer than 20 weeks or payrolls other than $1500 in a calendar quarter.

The FUTA and State UI laws also specify certain categories of employment as not covered. States can choose to extend coverage to a category that is excluded under the FUTA. Common exclusions across States are noted below.

  • Minor children employed by their parents, or parents employed by their children, are excluded from coverage in all States
  • Railroad workers are excluded from coverage in all States. A special Federal unemployment insurance program administered by the Railroad Retirement Board covers them.
  • U.S. Armed Forces military personnel are excluded in all States. They are covered under a separate Federal program, Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemen (known as the UCX program).
  • State and local government elected officials; members of the judiciary, State national and air national guardsmen, temporary emergency employees, and policy and advisory positions are excluded in most States.
  • College and university students employed by the school at which they are enrolled, such as work-study students, are excluded from coverage in all States. Most States also exclude student nurses and medical interns employed by hospitals as part of their professional training program.
  • Insurance and real estate agents paid only by commission are excluded from coverage in most States.

Industrial Classification

Employment and wage data under the ES-202 program have been classified by industry since 1938. An industrial code is assigned to each establishment by the State agency, based on a description provided by the employer on a questionnaire. If a private or government employer conducts different activities at various establishments or installations, separate industrial codes are assigned, to the extent possible, to each establishment.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

The year 2000 data will be the last from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (ES-202) program using the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. Beginning with the release of data for 2001, the program will switch to the 2002 version of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as the basis for the assignment and tabulation of economic data by industry. NAICS is the product of a cooperative effort on the part of the statistical agencies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Due to differences in NAICS and SIC structures, data for 2001 will not be comparable to the SIC-based data for earlier years.

NAICS uses a production-oriented approach to categorize economic units. Units with similar production processes are classified in the same industry. NAICS focuses on how products and services are created, as opposed to the SIC focus on what is produced. This approach yields significantly different industry groupings than those produced by the SIC approach.

Data users will be able to work with new NAICS industrial groupings that better reflect the workings of the U.S. economy. For example, a new industry sector called Information brings together units that turn information into a commodity with units that distribute the commodity and units that provide information services. Information's major components are publishing, broadcasting, telecommunications, information services, and data processing. Under the SIC system, these units were spread across the manufacturing, communications, business services, and amusement services groups. Another new sector of interest is Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services. This sector is comprised of establishments engaged in activities where human capital is the major input.

Every five years the BLS revises some Industry or NAICS codes to better reflect current industries. The most recent revision occurred in 2017.

More information about NAICS is on-line at BLS NAICS.

Verification of Account Information

To ensure the highest possible quality of data, DWD verifies and updates, if necessary, the NAICS, location, and ownership codes of all establishments on a three-year cycle. Government units in the public administration industry division, however, are verified less frequently. Each year, changes in establishment classification codes resulting from the verification process are introduced with the data reported for the first quarter. Thus, some data may not be strictly comparable with those for earlier years.


In general, ES-202 monthly employment data represent the number of covered workers who worked during, or received pay for, the pay period that included the 12th day of the month. Covered private industry employment includes most corporate officials, executives, supervisory personnel, professionals, clerical workers, wage earners, piece workers, and part-time workers. It excludes proprietors, the self-employed, unpaid family members, and certain farm and domestic workers.

Workers on paid sick leave, paid holiday, paid vacation, and the like, are included. Workers on the payroll of more than one firm during the period are counted by each UI subject employer if they meet the employment definition noted above. Workers are counted even though, in the latter months of the year, their wages may not be subject to unemployment insurance tax. The employment count excludes workers who earned no wages during the entire applicable pay period because of work stoppages, temporary layoffs, illness, or unpaid vacations.

Employment data reported for Federal civilian employees are a by-product of the operations of DWD in administering the provisions of Title XV of the Social Security Act -- the program of Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees. Federal employment data are based on reports of monthly employment and quarterly wages submitted each quarter to DWD for all Federal installations with employees covered by the Act, except for certain national security agencies, which are omitted for security reasons.

Employment for all Federal agencies, except the Department of Defense, for any given month is based on the number of persons who worked during or received pay for the pay period which included the 12th of the month. Installations of the Department of Defense include persons employed on the last workday of the month plus all intermittent employees -- occasional workers who were employed at any time during the month.


An establishment is an economic unit, such as a farm, mine, factory, or store that produces goods or provides services. It is typically at a single physical location and engaged in one, or predominantly one, type of economic activity for which a single industrial classification may be applied. Occasionally, a single physical location encompasses two or more distinct and significant activities. Each activity should be reported as a separate establishment if separate records are kept and the various activities are classified under different six-digit NAICS codes.

Most employers have only one establishment; thus, the establishment is the predominant reporting unit for employment and wages data. Most employers who operate more than one establishment in Wisconsin file a Multiple Worksite Report (MWR) each quarter, in addition to their quarterly UI report. The MWR form is used to collect separate employment and wage data for each of the employer's establishments, which are not detailed on the UI report. Some very small multi-establishment employers do not file a MWR. When the total employment in an employer's secondary establishments (all establishments other than the largest) is 10 or fewer, the employer generally will file a consolidated report for all establishments. Also, some employers either cannot or will not report at the establishment level and thus aggregate establishments into one consolidated unit, or possibly several units, though not at the establishment level.

For government, the reporting unit is the installation: a single location at which a department, agency, or other government body has civilian employees. Federal agencies follow slightly different criteria than do private employers when breaking down their reports by installation. They are permitted to combine as a single statewide unit (1) all installations with 10 workers or fewer and (2) all installations that have a combined total in the State of fewer than 50 workers. Also, when there are fewer than 25 workers in all secondary installations in a State, the secondary installations may be combined and reported with the major installation. Lastly, if a Federal agency has fewer than five employees in a State, the agency headquarters office (regional office, district office) serving each State may consolidate the employment and wages data for that State with the data reported to the State in which the headquarters is located. As a result of these reporting rules, the number of reporting units is always larger than the number of employers (or government agencies) but smaller than the number of actual establishments (or installations).


Total Wages. Total wages (sometimes called wages or gross wages) for a quarter are the total amount of wages paid or payable (depending on the wording of the State law) to covered workers for services performed during the quarter, on all the payrolls of whatever type during the quarter. Bonuses paid are included in the payroll figures. Also included, when furnished with the job, is the cash value of such items as meals, lodging, tips and other gratuities, to the extent that State laws and regulations provide. Total wages include both taxable and nontaxable wages. Both taxable and reimbursing subject employers report total wages.

Disclosure Restrictions

In accordance with policy, data provided to DWD in confidence are not published and are used only for specified statistical purposes. DWD withholds publication of UI-covered employment and wage data for any industry level when necessary to protect the identity of cooperating employers.

Imputed Data

To reduce the effect of data excluded because of late reporting by covered private and government employers, DWD imputes employment and wages for such employers and includes them in each quarterly report. Corrections to data that may be entered after a report is filed will include replacement of imputations with reported data to the extent possible. Imputations are calculated at the individual establishment level, normally using historical data reported by the employer. Sometimes, trends reported by employers in the same industry or information obtained from other sources also are used. If a report remains delinquent for more than one quarter and research shows that it is still active, the establishment will again be imputed.

Comparison of ES-202 Covered Employment Data With Other Series

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage data (ES-202) are available on this link at Employment by Industry Data.

Current Employment Statistics program. BLS and DWD cooperate in the operation of the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. In this program, the DWD is responsible for preparing current employment estimates for Wisconsin and its metropolitan labor market areas, while BLS is responsible for monthly employment estimates for the nation. National estimates are derived from an employer survey of approximately 300,000 nonfarm establishments nationwide, selected primarily from the ES-202 administrative records of UI-covered employers. The National and State industry CES estimates are then benchmarked annually to the ES-202 covered employment data. Wisconsin CES estimates of Employment by Industry are available on this website. Supplemental sources are used in benchmarking industries with non-covered workers.

Differences Between the ES-202 data and the Official CES Estimates include:

  • Most notable is that the CES data are derived from a survey of nonagricultural establishments, while the ES-202 data are a virtual census of these establishments.

  • The hours and earnings statistics compiled by CES are for production or nonsupervisory workers only. Other minor series published include indexes of aggregate weekly hours, indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls, average hourly earnings excluding overtime, indexes of employment diffusion, and real average hourly and average weekly earnings.

  • CES data exclude members of the armed forces, the self-employed, proprietors, domestic workers and unpaid family workers. The ES-202 program also has the same exclusions; but in addition, excludes railroad workers covered by the railroad unemployment insurance system, student workers, and employees of some small nonprofit organizations. The incorporated self-employed are covered under the ES-202 program, but not in the CES. The ES-202 program also provides partial information on agricultural industries and employees in private households not available from CES.

  • Payroll - Under the CES program, payroll is reported for production or nonsupervisory workers who receive pay for any part of the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. The payroll is reported before deductions. It includes pay for holidays, vacation, sick time, and overtime. It does not include bonuses (unless earned regularly), retroactive pay, tips, or the cash value of meals, lodging or other payments in kind. In contrast, the ES-202 program collects compensation for all employeesin the form of wages. Wages are total compensation paid during the calendar quarter, regardless of when services are performed. The wages include pay for holidays, vacation, sick time, and overtime. Wages include the types of compensation that CES excludes; namely, all bonuses, stock options, tips, and the cash value of meals and lodging.

  • Hours - CES collects the number of hours paid for during the pay period including the 12th of the month. Included are hours paid for leave time and overtime. ES-202 does not collect any data on hours.

  • Employment - CES employment includes workers who worked during, or received pay, for the pay period including the 12th of the month. The ES-202 employment concept is the same, except ES-202 only collects data on workers covered by UI and UCFE, while CES data include adjustments for noncovered workers.

County Business Patterns. Covered employment data collected through the ES-202 program differ from employment data published in the Census Bureau's County Business Patterns (CBP) in the following major areas:

  • CBP data exclude administrative and auxiliary establishments from "operating" establishment data and include these data at the industry division level only. ES-202 covered employment, on the other hand, includes data for these establishments at 3 or 4-digit NAICS level.

  • CBP excludes agricultural production workers and household workers, some of whom are included in ES-202 covered employment data. CBP also excludes government installations, all of which are included in ES-202 covered employment.

  • Every 5 years, data are collected for all multi-establishment firms within the scope of business and economic censuses and included in the CBP for that year. Annual updates for multi-establishment firms are obtained from the sample selected for the Company Organization Survey, and data for nonsample multi-establishment firms are estimated. Annual updates for single establishment firms come from the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration. ES-202 covered employment, on the other hand, includes establishment data collected from all active firms, single or multi-establishment, each quarter.

For specific examples of who uses the ES-202 data and for what purpose, refer to the following table.

Data Users Data Uses
Bureau of Economic Analysis Personal Income
(National Income and Product Accounts)
County Personal and Per Capita Income
Bureau of the Census Industry Coding
Possible Future Sampling
Employment and Training Administration Actuarial and Trust Fund Analysis
Insured Unemployment Rate
Extended Benefit Trigger
BLS Directly Collected Surveys Producer Price Index Sampling
NCS Sampling
Occupational Safety and Health Statistics Program Sampling and Benchmarking
Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics (OEUS) Programs CES Benchmarking and Estimation Research
LAUS Small Area Employment Estimates
OES Sampling and Benchmarking
JOLTS Sampling and Benchmarking
ES-202 Program Office Publication and Press Releases
Birth/Death and Gross Flow Studies
Other Longitudinal Analysis
Research Units Wage Survey Sampling
Birth/Death Studies
Research Units Wage Survey Sampling
Birth/Death Studies
Wisconsin Employment Security Units Job Service Sampling for Audits
Wisconsin UI Unit Computation of General UI Tax Rates
  • Setting UI Tax Rates for New Employers by Industry
  • Determination of Maximum Weekly Benefit Amounts
Other State Government Revenue Department Budget Modeling
  • Regulatory Use (e.g., Survey Employers by industry)
Measuring Demand for Transportation
Local Economic Planners Forecasting Demand for Schools, Roads, etc.
Private Sector Planning Economic Forecasting by Banks
Utilities Measuring Demand by Industry
Insurance Companies Setting Rates by Industry
Private Consultants Econometric Modeling and Forecasting
Academics Assorted Research
Media Articles and Publications
General Public Employment information

ES-202 data are used by businesses and by public and private research organizations as one of the best sources of detailed employment and wage statistics for economic forecasting, industry and regional analysis, impact studies, and other uses.

The ES-202 data also are important for a variety of other BLS programs. The Unemployment Insurance Address File, created from ES-202 administrative records of UI-covered employers, serves as a sampling frame for BLS establishment-based surveys such as the National Compensation Survey, the Current Employment Statistics program, and the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey. The data also serve, for example, as the basic source of benchmark information for employment by industry and by size of establishment in the Current Employment Statistics program, the Occupational Safety and Health Statistics survey, and the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey.

Custom Tabulations and Confidential Data Requests

When the published employment by industry data do not provide the needed industry nor geographic detail, customers can contact LMI to request a custom tabulation for detailed geographic areas for economic development and local labor market research. The source for these custom data tabulations is the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage program, commonly called the "ES 202". In this program, the DWD collects information from employers each quarter on their employment, wages, and taxable contributions. For more information, see the Custom Tabulations and Confidential Data Requests fact sheet.

Additional Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics-QCEW Additional Resources

QCEW Data Requests

Comparison of State

Contact: Sarah Hoffman
(608) 267-2424

Richard Krause
(608) 267-3513

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