Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) provides local labor market statistics by industry, worker demographics, employer age, and size. Unlike statistics tabulated from firm or person-level data, QWI source data is unique job-level data that link workers to their employers. Because of this link, labor market data in QWI is available by worker age, sex, educational attainment, and race/ethnicity. This allows for analysis by demographics of a particular local labor market or industry—for instance, identifying industries with aging workforces. Links between workers and firms also allow QWI to identify worker flows—hires, separations, and turnover—as well as net employment growth. (Since most hiring activity is the consequence of worker turnover rather than employment growth, a focus on employment growth alone may misrepresent employment opportunity in the local labor market.
How Lightcast Incorporates QWI
Industry Demographics Data
Lightcast uses QWI to create our detailed industry data, augmenting our regular employment data with QWI’s age/gender, and race/ethnicity demographics. After downloading individual state files, we prep QWI data through several steps.
First, we unsuppress QWI at its native level of industry detail (approximately 4-digit NAICS). Since QWI is compatible with QCEW, we then use QWI age/gender and race/ethnicity percentages to disaggregate our class of worker QCEW values, which are at 6-digit NAICS detail. However, we rely less heavily on QWI for creating detailed industry data for the remaining classes of worker (Non-QCEW, Self-Employed, and Extended Proprietors), preferring American Community Survey in these instances.
Lightcast also uses industry hires data from QWI as the basis for occupational hires. Job growth for occupations in each industry are combined with Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) separations data to model the pattern of occupational hiring needs for each industry–the percent of openings in each industry that come from openings in each occupation. This percent breakout is then applied to the QWI industry hires figure, yielding occupation hires.
Strengths of QWI
QWI provides a unique link between individuals and employers
QWI helps distinguish actual employment opportunity from general employment growth in a given area
QWI allows for easy wage comparisons between new hires, continuing workers, and similar workers across various regions
QWI data is released quarterly and the numbers are recalculated with every release to improve accuracy
QWI is compatible with Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Lightcast’s most important industry dataset
Weaknesses of QWI
QWI data is published at the 4-digit NAICS level rather than the 6-digit
QWI is produced on a quarterly schedule with a time lag of nine months (three quarters)
Like many public datasets, QWI contains many nondisclosed values that must be replaced with educated estimates
QWI does not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary separations
The Census’s QWI Explorer tool can be used to dig deeper into QWI data.