The Quarterly Workforce Indicators are local labor market data produced and released every quarter by the United States Census Bureau. Unlike any other local labor market series produced in the U.S. or the rest of the world, the QWI measure employment flows for workers (accession and separations), jobs (creations and destructions) and earnings for demographic subgroups (age and sex), economic industry (NAICS industry groups), and detailed geography (county, Core-Based Statistical Area, and Workforce Investment Area, as well as experimental, unreleased block-level estimates). The current QWI data cover 47 states and about 98% of the private workforce in each of those states.
John Abowd and Lars Vilhuber have used the existing public-use data (and only those public-use data) to construct the first national estimates. The national estimates are an important enhancement to existing series because they include demographic and industry detail for both worker and job flows compiled from data that have been integrated at the micro-level by the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program at the Census Bureau. The research paper (see below) compares the new estimates to national data published by the BLS from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the Business Employment Dynamics series. The paper and its underlying data can be downloaded from below.
John Abowd and Lars Vilhuber, “National Estimates of Gross Employment and Job Flows from the Quarterly Workforce Indicators with Demographic and Industry Detail“, draft February 10, 2010 (updated).
The paper was published in Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 161(1), pages 82-99, March 2011 (black-and-white graphs). A working paper version appeared in 2010 as Center for Economic Studies Working Paper 10-11 (local copy), U.S. Census Bureau (color graphs).
The most current data can be downloaded from
As of June 2012, the most recent version was computed based on the R2011Q3 release of QWI data. Data are available as SAS, Stata, and CSV files. Older versions of the data are archived here. To access the detailed state-level QWI public-use data, please see this other page. Download formats include CSV, SAS binary, and Stata 10 formats. All download files are gzipped, and can be uncompressed using popular ZIP utilities (WinZip ($$), PKZip ($$), 7zip (free)).
Categorical variables for the National QWI are a subset of those for the corresponding regular QWI – see “QWI Cheatsheet” for more information. Formats (SAS) for categorical variables can be found on the QWI download site:
- naicssec – NAICS Sector – format_naicssec.sas
- agegroup – age categories - format_age.sas
- sex – sex categories - format_sex.sas
Variable names on the datasets correspond to the ”short” academic names (a,s,jc, etc., as per notation in Abowd et al, 2009), rather than the “long” names used in the regular QWI public-use files (CSV headers:HirA,Sep,FrmJbGn). However, most variables are present only as rates, not as levels. Users wishing to merge the regular QWI with our National QWI should first run the following SAS program on the regular QWI.
Some variables are not present on the regular QWI, but are derived from variables on the regular QWI:
- eb2 – (e+b)/2 – average employment
- f2 – average full-quarter (FQ) employment
- wrr – worker reallocation rate
- jrr - job reallocation rate
- err – excess reallocation rate
- eir – excess inflow rate
- eor – excess outflow rate
- the equivalent concepts for FQ variables
Each variable is further prefixed to indicate its type. These prefixes are not present on the regular QWI, as are most of the statistics that they indicate. For further information on these statistics, consult our paper.
- qwi_ – the actual variable, also present (without prefix) on regular QWI
- vm_qwi_ - Within implicate variance
- b_qwi_ – between-implicate variance
- vt_qwi_ – total variation
- st_qwi_ – standard error
- df_qwi_ – degrees of freedom
- mr_qwi_ – effective missing data rate
For information on formats and compression, see this page.