Ask the Experts: Reporting on Employment Data for the DOL

Question: We received a letter from the Department of Labor’s CES program requesting employment data for the months of August – December 2016 and January 2017, as the information becomes available. We’ve never reported on this before and are wondering if we are required to respond?

Answer: Whether or not it is mandatory to complete and respond to the request depends upon where your business operates. The Current Employment Statistics (CES) report is voluntary under federal law and is mandatory under state law in Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Data Collection Center selected your company as part of its scientific sample of businesses throughout the United States. The BLS will use the information you provide for statistical purposes only and will hold the information in confidence to the full extent permitted by law. In accordance with the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (Title 5 of Public Law 107-347), the information you provide to the BLS will not be disclosed in identifiable form without your informed consent.

The program survey collects and provides industry data on employment, hours, and earnings of workers on nonfarm payrolls. The request asks for employee count, female employee count, payroll amount excluding commissions, commissions paid at least once a month, and hours, including overtime, for all workers and nonsupervisory workers. The CES monthly employment series are the first economic indicator of current economic trends each month, together with the unemployment rate, and are inputs to many gauges of the U.S. economy including:

  • The overall health of the economy (employment);
  • Earnings trends and wage-push inflation (average hourly earnings); and
  • Short-term fluctuations in demand (average weekly hours).

Even if your business is not located in a state where participation is mandatory, the government recommends that companies selected for the survey voluntarily participate so that businesses have access to this data to make daily business decisions in their operations related to the context covered in the data survey.