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Washington employment estimates (WA-QB)

This data series provides monthly estimates of nonfarm employment, by industry, in Washington state. Job gains and losses in our monthly employment report come from this data series. The 2024 monthly report publication dates schedule is available for download.

We provide these data as six spreadsheets:

Additional reports are available for download in the report library.

Our Washington employment estimates are based on Current Employment Statistics (CES) data developed by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, our employment estimates for Washington industries are different from those in the CES data series. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Glossary

How are these employment estimates different from CES employment estimates?

To develop our employment estimates for Washington industries, we replace CES survey data with data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). QCEW data are actual counts of employees, while CES data come from a survey of employers.

Each month, economists estimate monthly job gains and losses based on the survey of employers (CES). Then, at the end of each quarter, economists revise the estimates based on actual numbers from employer tax records (QCEW). The process that replaces employment estimates with the actual number of job gains or losses is called benchmarking. While we benchmark our data quarterly, the BLS benchmarks its data only once a year.

By benchmarking our data quarterly rather than annually, we can provide the most accurate and current information possible on Washington’s economy and labor market.

Washington employment estimates (CES)

Current Employment Statistics (CES) is a federal/state cooperative program. CES statistics are developed from a monthly survey of Washington employers. BLS conducts the survey and validates the data. Data are gathered based on employment in the Sunday-to-Saturday week that includes the 12th of the month. CES is also known as the payroll or establishment survey.

 The survey sample includes about 7,000 businesses and government agencies, which cover around 20,000 individual worksites. CES estimates are among the earliest economic information available to analyze current economic conditions.

From the survey, we produce statewide and local employment estimates available as four spreadsheets and earnings estimates:

Additional reports are available for download in the report library.

What else should I know about these data?

These data are available seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted. Seasonally adjusted numbers account for normal seasonal patterns that occur year after year, such as retail-trade hiring around the holidays or students entering the labor force in the summer. Not seasonally adjusted numbers are raw or actual employment counts without seasonal patterns taken into account. Learn more about the BLS explanation of seasonality.

With the release of January 2018 data on February 2, 2018, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program implemented publication changes related to annual sample review and updated the national nonfarm payroll series to the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) from the NAICS 2012 basis.

How can I use this information?

Employment estimates of Washington industries are used by the private and public sectors to:

  • Guide decisions on plant location, sales and purchases.
  • Compare businesses and the industry or economy.
  • Negotiate labor contracts based on industry or local earnings and hours.
  • Determine the employment base of states and areas for bond ratings.
  • Detect and plan for swings in the business cycle.
  • Evaluate the economic health of the state and its communities.
  • Guide monetary policy decisions.
  • Assess the growth of industries.
  • Forecast tax revenue for states and areas.
  • Measure employment, hours and earnings to determine economic growth.

For more information, contact an economist.