Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How do I get to the unemployment rates?
  2. How is the unemployment rate measured?
  3. Why is the level of employment different when comparing the estimated labor force data with the covered employment data?
  4. What is residence-based information?
  5. What is establishment-based (or at-place employment) information?
  6. Why don't you publish wage data by city or county?
  7. Why do the employment numbers differ when comparing the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to the infoUSA Employer Database?

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1.) How do I get to the unemployment rates?
  1. Click the Labor Market Analysis link in the left navigation menu
  2. Click Labor Force
  3. Click Labor Force, Employment & Unemployment
  4. Select an area
  5. Select a time period(s) and click Continue (you can select multiple periods)
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2.) How is the unemployment rate measured?

The unemployment rate is measured in a top down format. On a monthly basis, a sample of households are surveyed on a nationwide basis. From this sample, state rates are determined along with the national rate. The state information is then used through a model-based module to generate the substate (i.e. county/city) data.
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3.) Why is the level of employment different when comparing the estimated labor force data with the covered employment data?

The estimated labor force data is residence-based information while the covered employment data is establishment-based information.
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4.) What is residence-based information?

Data is aggregated according to where individuals live. An individual who lives in Chesterfield county but works in Richmond city would be counted among employed individuals for Chesterfield county. Similarly, if that same individual were laid off at a future date, the individual would then be counted among the unemployed individuals for Chesterfield county.
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5.) What is establishment-based (or at-place employment) information?

Data is aggregated according to information reported by surveyed employers for each physical location. The employment figures includes individuals working at a particular location during the week of the 12th of the month. No distinction is made between full-time or part-time work
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6.) Why don't you publish occupational wage data by city or county?

The OES Wage Survey was designed for the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA), therefore we do not have a large enough sample size to accurately publish data for all cities and counties in the state.
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7.) Why do the employment numbers differ when comparing the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to the infoUSA Employer Database?

Our QCEW data is produced each quarter using the information we collect from employers paying Unemployment Insurance (UI). infoUSA produces their employer data using entirely different data sources, so the numbers will never match. You can read more about the QCEW program on on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website at: www.bls.gov/qcew. You can also read more about infoUSA on their website at: www.infoUSA.com.
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We will continue to update this list as more questions arise.  If you have a specific question that is not answered here, please send us an e-mail.