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Basic Concepts Related to the OES Program

How are 'Wages' Defined by the OES Survey?
How are 'Employees' Defined by the OES Survey?
What are 'mean', 'median', 'entry', and 'experienced' wages?
How does OES classify occupations (SOC)?
What are the occupational descriptions?
How does OES classify industries (NAICS)?
Which industries are included/not included in the survey?
How is the OES Survey conducted?


How are 'Wages' Defined by the OES Survey?

Wages for the OES survey are straight-time, gross pay, exclusive of premium pay.

Included in wage data are:

  • base rate,

  • cost-of-living allowances,

  • guaranteed pay,

  • hazardous-duty pay, incentive pay including commissions and production bonuses, 

  • on-call pay, 

  • tips.


How are 'Employees' Defined by the OES Survey?    

'Employees' are all part-time and full-time workers who are paid a wage or salary. The survey does not cover the self-employed, owners and partners in unincorporated firms, household workers, or unpaid family workers.


What are 'mean', 'median', 'entry', and 'experienced' wages?

The OES program produces estimates of wages by occupation; i.e., the wages paid to wage or salary employees in a given occupation in the U.S., in a particular State, or in a particular industry. These occupational wage estimates are either estimates of mean wages or percentiles, such as the median wage.

  • A mean wage is an average wage. An occupational mean wage estimate is calculated by summing the wages of all the employees in a given occupation and then dividing the total wages by the number of employees.

  • A median wage is a boundary. An occupational median wage estimate is the boundary between the highest paid 50% and the lowest paid 50% of workers in that occupation. Half of the workers in a given occupation earn more than the median wage, and half the workers earn less than the median wage.

  • The entry level and experienced wage rates are defined as the first and third quartile respectively. The quartiles are determined by arranging all reported wage rates for each occupation in order from highest to lowest. The rate at which 25 percent of the reported wage rates falls below is the first quartile. The rate at which 75 percent of the reported wage rates falls below is the third quartile.


How does OES classify occupations (SOC)?

OES Estimates are produced using the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system The new SOC system, which will be used by all Federal statistical agencies for reporting occupational data, consists of 840 detailed occupations, grouped into 461 broad occupations, 97 minor groups, and 23 major groups. The OES program provides occupational employment and wage estimates at the major group and detailed occupation level. Due to the OES survey's transition to the new SOC system, 1999 and 2000 OES estimates are not directly comparable with previous years' OES estimates, which were based on a classification system having 7 major occupational groups and 770 detailed occupations. The detailed SOC occupations are allocated among these twenty-three major groups:

·         11-0000 Management Occupations 

·         13-0000 Business and Financial Operations Occupations

·         15-0000 Computer and Mathematical Occupations

·         17-0000 Architecture and Engineering occupations

·         19-0000 Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations

·         21-0000 Community and Social Services Occupations

·         23-0000 Legal Occupations

·         25-0000 Education, Training and Library Occupations

·         27-0000 Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations

·         29-0000 Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations

·         31-0000 Healthcare Support Occupations

·         33-0000 Protective Service Occupations

·         35-0000 Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations

·         37-0000 Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations

·         39-0000 Personal Care and Service Occupations

·         41-0000 Sales and Related Occupations

·         43-0000 Office and Administrative Support Occupations

·         45-0000 Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations

·         47-0000 Construction and Extraction Occupations

·         49-0000 Installation, Maintenance, and Repair occupations

·         51-0000 Production Occupations

·         53-0000 Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

·         55-0000 Military specific Occupations (not surveyed in OES).


How does OES classify industries (NAICS)?

The OES program uses definitions of industries found in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The NAICS is used throughout the Federal Government to group establishments into industries based on the goods or services they produce. The NAICS structure  makes it possible to collect and calculate establishment data by broad industrial sectors, subsectors (3-digit NAICS levels), industry groups (4-digit NAICS levels), and NAICS industries (5-digit NAICS levels). See the North American Industry Classification System, 2007 (Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget), available in many libraries.

The OES survey produces occupational employment and wage estimates for sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5-digit NAICS levels. With the exception of schools and hospitals, industry-specific estimates only include privately owned establishments. Schools and hospitals that are owned by State and local governments are included with the estimates of privately owned schools and hospitals in the appropriate NAICS code. OES classifies most government-owned establishments differently from the NAICS. The NAICS classifies government establishments according to their primary function and includes detailed industries within sector 92 Public Administration. The OES does not use NAICS sector 92. Instead, the OES survey produces occupational employment and wage estimates at the Federal, State, and local Government levels and denotes them with industry codes 9991, 9992, and 9993, respectively. The State and local government industries consist of all State and local government establishments, except schools and hospitals. The Federal Government estimates consist of all establishments in the executive branch of the Federal Government. The judicial and legislative branches of the Federal Government are not surveyed.


Which industries are included/not included in the survey?

The OES survey collects occupational employment and wage data from establishments in nonfarm industries. The OES survey produces estimates of occupational employment and wages for 4- and 5-digit industrial groups in these industrial sectors: Forestry and logging; Mining; Utilities; Construction; Manufacturing; Wholesale trade; Retail trade; Transportation and warehousing; Information; Finance and insurance; Real estate and Rental and leasing; Professional, scientific, and technical services; Management of companies and enterprises; Administrative and support and Waste management and remediation services; Educational services; Health care and social assistance; Arts, entertainment, and recreation; Accommodation and food services; Other services (except public administration); and Government.

The OES program does not survey establishments in NAICS 111 (Crop production); NAICS 112 (Animal production); NAICS 114 (Fishing, hunting, and trapping); and NAICS 814 (Private households).


How is the OES Survey conducted?

The OES survey is an annual mail survey of non-farm establishments. The BLS produces the survey materials and selects the establishments to be surveyed. The sampling frame (the list from which establishments to be surveyed are selected) is derived from the list of establishments maintained by State Employment Security Agencies (SESAs) for unemployment insurance purposes. Establishments to be surveyed are selected in order to obtain data from every metropolitan area and State, across all surveyed industries, and from establishments of varying sizes. The SESAs mail the survey materials to the selected establishments and make follow-up calls to request data from non-respondents or to clarify data. The collected data are used to produce occupational estimates at the National, State, and sub-State levels.


For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' OES Home Page.
 


 
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