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Confidentiality Protection in the Census Bureau Quarterly Workforce Indicators


  • John Abowd
  • Bryce Stephens
  • Lars Vilhuber


The QuarterlyWorkforce Indicators are new estimates developed by the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program as a part of its Local Employment Dynamics partnership with 37 state Labor Market Information offices. These data provide detailed quarterly statistics on employment, accessions, layoffs, hires, separations, full-quarter employment (and related flows), job creations, job destructions, and earnings (for flow and stock categories of workers). The data are released for NAICS industries (and 4-digit SICs) at the county, workforce investment board, and metropolitan area levels of geography. The confidential microdata - unemployment insurance wage records, ES-202 establishment employment, and Title 13 demographic and economic information - are protected using a permanent multiplicative noise distortion factor. This factor distorts all input sums, counts, differences and ratios. The released statistics are analytically valid - measures are unbiased and time series properties are preserved. The confidentiality protection is manifested in the release of some statistics that are flagged as "significantly distorted to preserve confidentiality." These statistics differ from the undistorted statistics by a significant proportion. Even for the significantly distorted statistics, the data remain analytically valid for time series properties. The released data can be aggregated; however, published aggregates are less distorted than custom postrelease aggregates. In addition to the multiplicative noise distortion, confidentiality protection is provided by the estimation process for the QWIs, which multiply imputes all missing data (including missing establishment, given UI account, in the UI wage record data) and dynamically re-weights the establishment data to provide state-level comparability with the BLS’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

Suggested Citation

  • John Abowd & Bryce Stephens & Lars Vilhuber, 2006. "Confidentiality Protection in the Census Bureau Quarterly Workforce Indicators," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2006-02, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:tpaper:2006-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John J. Abowd & John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane, 2004. "Integrated Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data for the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 224-229, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Abowd, John M. & Vilhuber, Lars, 2011. "National estimates of gross employment and job flows from the Quarterly Workforce Indicators with demographic and industry detail," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 161(1), pages 82-99, March.
    2. Lars Vilhuber & Kevin McKinney, 2014. "LEHD Infrastructure files in the Census RDC - Overview," Working Papers 14-26, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. John M. Abowd & Bryce E. Stephens & Lars Vilhuber & Fredrik Andersson & Kevin L. McKinney & Marc Roemer & Simon Woodcock, 2009. "The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators," NBER Chapters,in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 149-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. John Haltiwanger & Henry Hyatt & Erika McEntarfer & Liliana Sousa & Stephen Tibbets, 2014. "Firm Age And Size In The Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Data," Working Papers 14-16, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    5. Andrew S. Green & Mark J. Kutzbach & Lars Vilhuber, 2017. "Two Perspectives on Commuting: A Comparison of Home to Work Flows Across Job-Linked Survey and Administrative Files," Working Papers 17-34, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Ronning, Gerd & Schneeweiss, Hans, 2011. "Panel regression with multiplicative measurement errors," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 136-139, February.


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