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Alternative Measure of County Wages

Another measure of county wages by place of work is the payroll data published in the Census Bureau's County Business Patterns (CBP). It differs in source data and coverage from BEA's wages and salaries and QCEW wages.1

The CBP data are derived from Census Bureau business establishment surveys and federal administrative records.

The coverage of the CBP data differs from that of the QCEW data primarily because the CBP data exclude most government employees, while the QCEW data cover civilian government employees.2 CBP data also exclude several private industries covered at least in part by the QCEW: crop and animal production; rail transportation; insurance and employee benefit funds; trusts, estates, and agency accounts; and private households. However, the CBP data cover the employees of educational institutions, membership organizations, and small nonprofit organizations in other industries more completely than the QCEW data.3

Beginning in 2001, QCEW classifies employees of Indian tribal governments and enterprises in local government. These employees were previously classified in the relevant private industries.4 In the CBP data, these employees are still classified in private industries.

  1. See Table C. (PDF)
  2. The CBP data cover only those government employees who work in government hospitals, federally chartered savings institutions and credit unions, retail liquor stores, wholesale liquor establishments and university publishers. QCEW data in most states exclude state and local elected officials, members of the judiciary, state national and air national guardsmen, temporary emergency employees, and those in policy and advisory positions.
  3. Some religious elementary and secondary schools are not covered by QCEW because of a 1981 Supreme Court decision stating “schools operated and supported by churches and not separately incorporated [are] held exempt from unemployment compensation taxes.” College students (and their spouses) employed by the school in which they are enrolled and student nurses and interns employed by hospitals as part of their training are also excluded from QCEW. While QCEW coverage varies, half of the states only include nonprofit organizations with four or more employees during twenty weeks in a calendar year.
  4. For example, employees of casinos owned by tribal councils were included in the North American Industry Classification System subsector "Amusement, Gambling, and Recreation Industries."

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