Current Employment Statistics (CES)


Current Employment Statistics is a federal-state cooperative program funded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Every month, CES surveys business establishments to produce estimates of employment, hours, and earnings data. CES compiles data for all states, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the nation as a whole. CES data are broken down by industry according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). 

In Colorado, the program area estimates include statewide and all seven metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). 

Definition of Employment


CES defines employment as the number of employees receiving pay for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. People included on multiple payrolls are counted at each establishment. Striking employees who work a portion of the survey period and are paid are counted in the survey.

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • temporary employees
  • workers on paid sick or holiday leave
  • workers who worked for only part of the pay period

  • self-employed workers
  • farm workers
  • volunteers
  • unpaid family workers
  • employees on leave without pay
  • domestic workers
  • workers on strike for the entire pay period 

Data Types & Uses



CES employment data is a true time series. Time series data is a sequence of data points indexed in time order:

  • over the month employment change by selected industries
  • employment level history in both seasonally adjusted and non-adjusted data by those industries back to 1990
  • average hourly, weekly, and overtime wages for selected industries
  • average hourly, weekly, and overtime wages for production (non-supervisory) workers in manufacturing and construction
  • average weekly hours for selected industries


  • CES data is an important current economic indicator for both the nation as a whole and local areas.
  • CES data provides trends in employment by industry.
  • CES data measure the effects of economic changes or shocks on employment.
  • CES time series history is useful in economic modeling.


Each year, the national CES benchmarks the March employment level to the first quarter employment level of the QCEW. BLS defines benchmarking as "a standard or point of reference by which data can be compared." Learn more at BLS.


Each month, CES surveys approximately 144,000 businesses and government agencies, representing 697,000 individual worksites nationally.