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Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Employment Cost Index data for December 2020

This page provides further information on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the December 2020 Employment Cost Index news release.

Collection mode

The ECI data are collected by BLS field economists contacting establishment respondents. Respondents may provide information through personal visits, phone, email, electronic file transmission, fax, and mail. Field economists have discontinued personal visits and are relying on the other collection methods at this time. 

Response rates

Nonresponse may increase because of difficulty reaching survey respondents or selected jobs having no workers for the reference period. See the historical response rates. Response rates were comparable in December 2020 to the September 2020 release.

Table 1. Response rates for usable data eligible for collection
Compensation component December 2019 March 2020 June 2020 September 2020 December 2020

Wages and salaries

86.0% 79.5% 80.0% 81.2% 81.3%


95.3% 95.9% 95.8% 95.3% 95.6%

Measures of reliability

BLS publishes measures of reliability along with not seasonally adjusted 3-month and 12-month percent changes. See Technical Information about Standard Errors for Employment Cost Index Estimates and the database query tools. The percentage of standard errors (3-month percent change) less than 0.3 in December 2020 are shown below.

Table 2. Percentage of standard errors (3-month percent change) less than 0.3
Compensation component December 2019 March 2020 June 2020 September 2020 December 2020

Total compensation

99.2% 89.4% 84.8% 84.1% 89.4%

Wages and salaries

97.7% 87.1% 79.5% 82.5% 82.6%


100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Sample Rotation

A portion of the sample is rotated each year. For December 2020, private industry and aircraft manufacturing sample groups were replaced. To learn more, see the  section on sample rotation in the Handbook of Methods chapter for the National Compensation Survey.

Last Modified Date: January 29, 2021