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Effective date: October 15, 2018


An establishment is an economic unit, such as a farm, mine, factory, store, etc. that produces goods or provides services. It is usually at a single physical location and engaged in one or predominantly one type of economic activity for which a single industry code is applicable.

Where a single physical location encompasses two or more distinct and separate economic activities for which different industry codes seem applicable, such activities should be treated as separate establishments and classified in separate industries, provided it is determined that:

  1. No one industry description in the NAICS system includes such combined activities;
  2. The employment in each such economic activity is significant;
  3. Such activities are not ordinarily associated with one another at common physical locations; and
  4. Separate reports can be prepared on the number of employees, their wages and salaries, and other establishment-type data for each of the activities.

In the government sector, the term "installation" generally is used instead of establishment.

An employer who has more than one establishment reporting under the same UI Account Number within the State and has a total employment of 10 or more in all of the secondary establishments combined is considered a multi-establishment employer to be disaggregated.1

When are the most current QCEW data available?2

QCEW data are available quarterly and annually (see release calendar), between five and six months after the end of the quarter. Each release includes monthly employment levels as well as quarterly establishment counts and quarterly wage information.

Quarterly and Annual data are preliminary (denoted with a 'p' in the production database output) during the current reference year, then finalized with the publication of the following year's first quarter of data. For example, 2017 QCEW data is currently preliminary, but all 2016 and prior data are final. Please note that revisions between preliminary and final data are usually minor in QCEW.

To receive notifications regarding the QCEW news releases, please subscribe to the BLS News Service, and select the County Employment and Wages press releases under Employment and Unemployment. Please use the contact page to request special notifications and announcements from QCEW.

Can I get QCEW data below the county-industry level?3

The finest level of geographic detail is the county-industry level, as aggregates of establishments classified to varying degrees of industry detail. While the input data are coded with meaningful address locations, the data are generally unavailable at greater detail. The QCEW program is constrained by the need to protect the confidentiality of data provided by employers, and richer geographic detail would threaten that confidentiality. Even the county by industry data cited above is at the margin of being disclosable - approximately 60 percent of the most detailed level data are suppressed for confidentiality reasons.

For more information on suppressions and data disclosure, see FAQ #13 and FAQ #14 respectively. To access confidential micro data for research purposes, please refer to FAQ #8.

Why are QCEW establishment counts different from those of other programs?4

There are two main reasons for establishment count discrepancies between QCEW and other programs. First, while QCEW program only reports the predominant economic activity, other programs may choose to also include non-predominant economic activity as part of its count.

For instance, a metal parts manufacturing factory would be classified under manufacturing. However, this factory may also perform plating on the parts as part of a package or deal for its end-users. Under the QCEW count, this establishment would be counted only under manufacturing, but not plating because it is not the factory's predominant economic activity or output.

The second reason of the discrepancy is the differences in reporting practices of multi-establishment firms. State UI laws vary with regard to requiring establishment breakouts. Even without legal obligation, many multi-establishment employers break their reports to the establishment level via Multiple Worksite Report. When an employer begins reporting via multiple worksite reports, often after only via consolidated reports, the establishment count jumps.