T3 Report Employment and Earnings Records Feb2021 FINAL


February 17, 2021


Developing and Using Public-Private Data Standards for Employment and Earnings Records

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Chamber Foundation) and the T3 Innovation Network (T3 Network) recently partnered with the HR Open Standards Consortium (HR Open) to develop public-private open data standards for employment and earnings records. Employers use these records in business planning and managing their human resources and report them to federal and state governments, including state Unemployment Insurance (UI) systems. The HR Open standards establish common definitions, clarify data relationships, and provide guidance for employers and their human resources (HR) technology service providers on maintaining and reporting the records, and for government agencies on establishing reporting requirements and data collection systems. This information is provided through a conceptual data model and data dictionary. These standards also provide more technical schema and other documentation to assist in the implementation of the standards. These standards are designed for use in reducing data reporting costs for employers and government and improving labor market information. The Chamber Foundation and T3 Network also partnered with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) to assist in engaging states and other stakeholders in developing and reviewing the standards and exploring their applications for enhancing state UI wage records and improving labor market information.

Working with the T3 Network, HR Open developed the standards for employment and earnings records based on employer and government use cases and a comprehensive review of federal government reporting requirements, as well as selected state reports, including state UI wage record reporting. These standards also address the major data priorities of states considering expanding or enhancing the UI wage records (e.g., occupation, work location, work hours).

These standards offer substantial potential benefits to employers, government, and other stakeholders. The standards have the potential to reduce reporting and data collection costs and improve data quality. They also address some of the most critical data needed for improving the labor market information used by businesses, workers, policy makers, and the general public. However, these potential benefits need to be weighed against potential implementation issues and costs, including the initial changes in employer human resource information systems and reporting systems, government data collection systems, and additional state administrative costs resulting from the additional data requirements for improving labor market information.

Reducing reporting and data collection costs while improving labor market information can best be achieved by reducing the number of government reports and the variability in government reporting requirements. One promising starting point for using these HR Open standards would be a collaborative state approach for enhancing state UI wage records that would reduce variability in state UI reporting requirements and reduce the need for some federal reporting. Taking this approach, interested states would work together with employers and HR technology service providers as well as federal agencies to further develop and use HR Open standards for establishing common state UI wage record reporting requirements. States would also develop and use more efficient systems for collecting and sharing data based on these requirements and other public-private standards, collaborate in developing innovative labor market information products and services for employers and government, and explore data sharing among federal and state agencies to further reduce overall reporting costs for employment and earnings data based on enhanced state UI wage records.

To be successful, this public-private approach will require strong employer leadership in working cooperatively with interested states and other public and private stakeholders. As a result, the next steps should be for the Chamber Foundation to work with employers, HR Open, HR technology service providers, states, federal agencies, and other stakeholders to further explore this approach and implementation strategies.