Accounting for Undercoverage in the BLS CEW Wage and Salary Income and Employment Data


The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Employment and Wages (CEW) dataset is one of the most important datasets used in IMPLAN database development. The CEW data provide an incredible level of industry detail (6-digit NAICS) geographic detail (county-level), ownership levels (Private, Federal Government, State Government, and Local Government), and always discloses establishment counts.  

However, as described in Employment and Labor Income Data Sources and Comparison of IMPLAN Source Data for Employment and Labor Income, the CEW data must be augmented and adjusted for the following reasons:

  1. Non-disclosures. In these cases, the CEW data will contain an establishment count but will not reveal the associated employment or income values. 
  2. Undercoverage. The CEW data only includes workers covered by State unemployment insurance (UI) laws and Federal workers covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. CEW excludes proprietors, certain farm and domestic workers from having to report employment data, railroad workers covered by the railroad unemployment insurance system, elected officials in the executive or legislative branch, members of the armed forces or the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, individuals serving on a temporary basis in case of fire, storm, earthquake, or other similar emergency, individuals employed under a Federal relief program to relieve them from unemployment, and employees of certain national security agencies, which are excluded for security reasons.

This article describes the two different approaches that IMPLAN employs to account for exclusions and undercoverage and discusses the Industries that fall under each approach. For details about how IMPLAN estimates non-disclosed values in the CEW data, read Estimating Non-Disclosed Values in the Source Data for IMPLAN Employment and Labor Income. For details about how IMPLAN estimates Employment and Income read Proprietor Employment and Income Data.


The first approach to account for undercoverage by CEW is to use the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Economic Accounts (REA) data to provide a compensating boost to the CEW data. While the BEA REA data provide full coverage of all employees in all industries, the BEA REA data are lagged one year relative to the CEW data and do not have nearly the same level of industry detail; thus, the BEA REA data are not suitable as a replacement for the CEW data, but can be used in conjunction with the CEW data to determine the magnitude of undercoverage in each industry and to calculate the appropriate adjustment ratios accordingly. The adjustment ratios are applied to the fully-disclosed CEW data. 

This approach is used for the following IMPLAN (546 Unaggregated) Industries: 

  • 19 - Support activities for agriculture and forestry
  • 17 - Commercial fishing
  • 481 - Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools 
  • 522 - Grantmaking, giving, and social advocacy organizations 
  • 525 - Private households 


The second approach to account for undercoverage by the CEW is to use a different data source altogether and not use CEW data for these Industries. The IMPLAN Industries that fall into this category are the Farm, Construction, Rail transportation, and Government Industries. Read more about the data sources and estimation processes for these Industries in Special Industries in IMPLAN.


Employment and Labor Income Data Sources

Comparison of IMPLAN Source Data for Employment and Labor Income

Estimating Non-Disclosed Values in the Source Data for IMPLAN Employment and Labor Income

Proprietor Employment and Income Data

Special Industries in IMPLAN: Farm, Construction, Railroad, and Government




Written December 19, 2023