National Compensation Survey

National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2007

U.S. Department of Labor
Elaine L. Chao, Secretary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Keith Hall, Commissioner

August 2008

Bulletin 2704



Occupational Earnings Tables: United States, December 2006 – January 2008 (average reference date July 2007)

Relative Standard Error (RSE) tables to accompany mean hourly, weekly, and annual earnings tables

Appendix A: Technical Note

Appendix B: Occupational Descriptions (PDF)

Appendix C: Survey Areas and Geographic Coverage (PDF)


The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings, compensation cost trends, the incidence of benefits, and detailed benefit provisions. This bulletin presents estimates of occupational pay for the Nation. These national estimates originate from the NCS locality survey data and are weighted to represent the Nation as a whole. The estimates include pay for workers in major sectors within the U.S. economy in 2007–the civilian, private, and State and local government sectors–and by various occupational and establishment characteristics. The civilian economy, by NCS definition, excludes Federal government, agricultural, and household workers.

Questions regarding these data and recent and historical NCS wage data can be addressed by calling the information line at (202) 691-6199 or by e-mailing to Information is available to sensory-impaired individuals on request, (Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1 (800) 877-8339). Data requests also may be sent by mail to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Compensation Data Analysis and Planning, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Room 4175, Washington, DC 20212. Material in this publication is in the public domain and, with appropriate credit, may be reproduced without permission.

U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) field economists collected and reviewed the survey data. The Office of Compensation and Working Conditions, in cooperation with the Office of Field Operations and the Office of Technology and Survey Processing (all in the BLS National Office), designed the survey, processed the data, and prepared the survey for publication. The survey could not have been conducted without the cooperation of the many private businesses and government jurisdictions that provided pay data included in this report. BLS thanks these respondents for their cooperation.

New this year. This edition of the NCS annual bulletin on occupational earnings in the United States has undergone changes since the last publication:

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Occupational Earnings Tables:United States, December 2006 –January 2008 (average reference date July 2007)

The 2007 NCS national earnings bulletin includes occupational earnings tables 1-36; relative standard errors of the estimates for tables 2 - 7; 12; 24 - 26; and 30 - 34; and appendix tables 1 and 2. The relative standard error tables are titled and numbered to correspond to their respective earnings-estimates tables. Appendix tables 1 and 2 are part of Appendix A.

Summary table. Table 1 presents an overview of data reported in this bulletin. Mean hourly earnings, weekly hours, and relative standard errors are given for civilian, private industry, and State and local government workers by selected worker and establishment characteristics. Worker characteristics include high-level and intermediate occupational aggregation, full-time and part-time status, union and nonunion status, and time and incentive pay status. Establishment characteristics include goods producing, service providing, and size of establishment.

Full-time and part-time workers. Employees are classified as full time or part time on the basis of definitions used by each establishment. Table 2 provides mean hourly earnings estimates for full-time and part-time workers by occupational group for the civilian, State and local government, and private sectors. Tables 3 through 7 provide mean and median hourly, weekly, and annual earnings estimates, as well as mean weekly and annual hours worked, for full-time workers, by ownership sector.

Work levels. Work levels are standardized measures of duties and responsibilities that apply to all occupations. The NCS designates 15 work levels; level 1 is the lowest and level 15 is the highest. Tables 8 through 10 present average wages by work level. Table 11 shows average wages by combined work levels. (For more information on how work levels are determined, see Appendix A.)

Union and nonunion workers. Union workers are workers whose wages are determined through collective bargaining. Table 12 provides mean hourly earnings of union and nonunion workers in the civilian, State and local government, and private sectors, by major occupational group. Table 13 provides mean hourly earnings of civilian workers, by union and nonunion status of worker, by occupation. (For more information on union workers, see Appendix A.)

Time and incentive workers. Time workers are workers whose wages are based solely on an hourly rate or a salary. Incentive workers are workers whose wages are based at least partially on productivity payments, such as piece rates, commissions, and production bonuses. Table 14 provides hourly earnings estimates for workers in the civilian and private sectors who are paid on a time or an incentive basis.

Percentiles. Percentiles designate position in the earnings distribution and are calculated from individual worker earnings and the hours those workers are scheduled to work. Tables 15 through 23 provide estimates on the mean hourly wage for the 10th percentile, the 25th percentile, the 50th percentile (the median), the 75th percentile, and the 90th percentile of occupational wages, by ownership sector and for full- and part-time workers within the sectors.

Supervisory occupations. Tables 24 through 26 include estimates of mean and median weekly and annual occupational earnings and mean weekly and annual hours for workers with supervisory responsibility, for the civilian, private, and State and local government sectors, respectively.

Size of establishment. Estimates of mean hourly earnings for workers in major occupational groups by size of establishment–1-49 workers, 50-99 workers, 100-499 workers, and 500 or more workers–are given separately for the civilian, private, and State and local government sectors in tables 27 through 29, respectively. Tables 30 and 31 show estimates of mean and median hourly, weekly, and annual earnings and mean weekly and annual hours for detailed occupations of full-time private industry workers in establishments with fewer than 100 workers and those in establishments with 100 workers or more, respectively.

Private industry sector. Table 32 shows estimates of mean hourly earnings of workers, by industry sector, for major occupational groups. Industry sectors include: manufacturing, mining, health care and social services, educational services, transportation and warehousing, and utilities.

Nonprofit establishments. Nonprofits include, but are not limited to, hospitals, churches, educational institutions, social welfare organizations, and charitable organizations. Table 33 shows the mean and median hourly, weekly, and annual earnings, and mean weekly and annual hours, for private industry full-time workers who work in nonprofit establishments, by detailed occupation and work level.

Hospitals. Hospitals include establishments matching NAICS code 622000: general medical and surgical hospitals, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, and specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals. Table 34 shows mean and median hourly, weekly, and annual earnings and mean weekly and annual hours, for full-time civilian workers in hospitals, by detailed occupation and level. Tables 35 and 36 provide mean hourly earnings estimates for all, full-time, and part-time workers in hospitals, by detailed occupation for private industry and State and local government sectors, respectively.

Multiple table selection. Wages tables 1-12, 13-24, 25-36, and all wage tables are given here for ease of printing many tables at once.

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Relative Standard Error (RSE) tables are numbered to accompany mean hourly, weekly, and annual earnings tables:

Multiple RSE table selection. All of the RSE tables are given here for ease of printing many tables at once.

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Appendix A: Technical Note

  • Appendix table 1. Number of workers represented by the survey. (TXT) (PDF 10K)
  • Appendix table 2. Survey establishment response. (TXT) (PDF 10K)
  • This section provides basic information on survey procedures and concepts. For a more complete description, see the BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 8, "National Compensation Measures," on the Internet at

    Survey scope

    The NCS covers establishments employing one worker or more in private goods-producing industries (mining, construction, and manufacturing); private service-providing industries (trade, transportation, and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; and other services); State governments; and local governments. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, private households, and the Federal government are excluded from the scope of the survey. For purposes of this survey, an establishment is an economic unit that produces goods or services, a central administrative office, or an auxiliary unit providing support services to a company. For private industries in the survey, the establishment is usually at a single physical location. For State and local governments, an establishment is defined as an agency or entity such as a school district, a college, a university, a hospital, a nursing home, an administrative body, a court, a police department, a fire department, a health or social service operation, a highway maintenance operation, an urban transit operation, or some other governmental unit within a defined geographic area or jurisdiction.

    Sampling frame

    The list of establishments from which the survey sample is selected (the sampling frame) is developed from State unemployment insurance reports. Due to the volatility of industries within the private sector, the most recent month of reference available at the time the sample is selected is used to develop sampling frames. Approximately one-fifth of the private industry sample is reselected each year. The sampling frame for State and local government establishments is revised every 10 years.

    Data collection

    The collection of data from survey respondents requires detailed procedures. Field economists collect the data by contacting each establishment in the survey.

    Industry classification

    The NCS sample is classified by the NAICS. For more detail on NAICS, see The NCS began collecting and coding data under NAICS 2007 in August 2007. Some of the data in this bulletin were collected under NAICS 2002. NAICS 2007 includes revisions to NAICS 2002 that affect several sectors. The most significant revisions are in the information sector, particularly within the telecommunications area. For more information about the differences between the NAICS 2002 and NAICS 2007, see

    Occupational selection and classification

    The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system is used by all Federal statistical agencies. NCS data are currently classified according to the 2000 edition of the SOC manual. Workers are classified into detailed occupational categories with standardized definitions. To facilitate classification, occupations are combined to form major groups, minor groups, and broad occupations. Each item in the hierarchy is designated by a six-digit code. Major group codes end with 0000, minor groups codes end with 000, and broad occupations codes end with 0. (See the entire list of SOC occupational categories at Note that the NCS excludes major group 23 (23-0000), military-specific occupations. )

    Identification of the occupations for which wage data are to be collected is a multi-step process:

    1. Selection of establishment jobs by probability proportional to size
    2. Classification of jobs into occupations based on the SOC system
    3. Characterization of jobs as full-time or part-time, union or nonunion, and time or incentive
    4. Determination of the level of work of each job

    For each occupation, wage data are collected for those workers whose jobs can be characterized by the criteria identified in the last three steps. If a specific work level cannot be determined, wages are still collected. In step one, the jobs to be sampled are selected at each establishment by the BLS field economist. A complete list of employees is used for sampling, with each worker selected representing a job within the establishment. As with the selection of establishments, the selection of a job is based on probability proportional to its size in the establishment. The greater the number of people working in a job in the establishment, the greater is its chance of selection. The number of jobs for which data are collected in each establishment is based on the establishment's employment size. The number of jobs selected follows this schedule:


    of employees


    of jobs selected


    Up to 4



    250 or more


    Exceptions include State and local government units, for which up to 20 jobs may be selected, and the aircraft manufacturing industry units–those matching NAICS code 33-6411–for which up to 32 jobs may be selected.

    The second step of the process entails classifying the selected jobs into occupations based on their duties. A job may fall into any one of about 800 occupational classifications–from accountant to zoologist–based on the 2000 SOC system. When workers can be classified into more than one occupation, they are classified into the occupation that requires the higher skill level. When there is no perceptible difference in skill level, the workers are classified into the occupation that describes their primary activity. Each occupational classification is an element of a broader classification known as a major group. Occupations can fall into any of 22 major groups; military occupations are excluded from the survey. The Web site page with URL contains a complete list of all individual occupations, classified by the major group to which they belong.

    In step 3, certain other job characteristics of the chosen worker are identified. First, the worker is identified as holding either a full-time job or a part-time job, based on the establishments definition of those terms. Then, the worker is classified as having a time or an incentive job, depending on whether any part of the pay was based directly on the actual production of the worker, rather than solely on hours worked. Finally, the worker was identified as being in a union job or a nonunion job.

    Union workers. The NCS defines a union worker as any employee in a union occupation when all of the following conditions are met: a labor organization is recognized as the bargaining agent for all workers in the occupation; wage and salary rates are determined through collective bargaining or negotiations; and settlement terms, which must include earnings provisions and may include benefit provisions, are embodied in a signed, mutually binding collective bargaining agreement. A nonunion worker is an employee in an occupation not meeting the conditions for union coverage.

    Supervisory occupations. Supervisors usually assign and review the work of subordinates. Typically, supervisors have the authority to hire, transfer, lay off, promote, reward, and discipline other employees. By NCS definitions, first-line supervisors direct their staff through face-to-face meetings and are responsible for conducting the employees' performance appraisals. Second-line supervisors typically direct the actions of their staffs through first-line supervisors.

    Work levels

    In the last step before wage data are collected, a point factor leveling process is used to determine the work level of each job selected. Work level is a ranking within an occupation, based on the requirements of the position. Point factor leveling matches certain aspects of a job to specific levels of work with assigned point values. Points for each factor are then totaled to determine the overall work level for the job. The four occupational leveling factors are

    For a complete description of point factor leveling, refer to the publication "National Compensation Survey: Guide for Evaluating Your Firm's Jobs and Pay," on the Internet at

    Combined work levels

    This bulletin includes a table that simplifies the presentation of work levels by combining them into four broad groups. The groups are determined by combinations of knowledge, job controls and complexity, contacts, physical environment, and supervisory duties and are meant to be comparable across different occupations. The broad groups and the combined work levels are as follows:

    Groupdesignation Combinedlevels

    Group I

    Levels 1–4

    Group II

    Levels 5–8

    Group III

    Levels 9–12

    Group IV

    Levels 13–15

    Areas surveyed

    The NCS program collects data in geographic areas defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). (For a list of all areas included in the 2007 national earnings estimates, see Appendix C.) Although the NCS usually collects data from 152 areas to compile its national estimates, 227 areas were surveyed this year, as new areas are being phased into the sample and others are being phased out.

    In the areas newly surveyed in 2007, data were collected only in State and local government establishments. Over the next 5 years, new areas will include private industry establishments to replenish the private industry sample. (For more information on the area definitions, see Jason Tehonica, "New Area Sample Selected for the National Compensation Survey," Compensation and Working Conditions Online, Apr. 25, 2005, on the Internet at For a list of current and historical OMB area definitions, see

    Collection period

    Survey data were collected over a 13-month period for the 87 larger areas; for the 140 smaller areas, data were collected over a 4-month period. For each establishment in the survey, the data reflect the establishments most recent information at the time of collection. The data for the National bulletin were compiled from locality data collected between December 2006 and January 2008. The average reference period is July 2007.


    Earnings are defined as regular payments from the employer to the employee as compensation for straight-time hourly work or for any salaried work performed. The following components are included as part of earnings:

    The earnings estimates for aircraft pilots and flight engineers (SOC code 53-2010) and detailed occupations within this group, and the earnings estimates for flight attendants (SOC code 39-6031), include flight pay and flight hours only; these estimates may not reflect the total earnings and hours worked.

    The following forms of payments are not considered part of straight-time earnings:

    To calculate earnings for various periods (hourly, weekly, and annual), the NCS collects data on work schedules. For hourly workers, scheduled hours worked per day and per week, exclusive of overtime, are recorded. The number of weeks worked annually is determined as well. Because salaried workers who are exempt from overtime provisions often work beyond the assigned work schedule, the typical number of hours they actually worked is collected.

    Processing and analyzing the data

    Data are processed and analyzed at the BLS national office following collection. Processing and analysis includes weighting, adjusting for nonresponse, imputation, benchmarking, and calculating wage estimates, percentiles, variances, and other summary statistics.

    Estimation, Weighting, and Nonresponse

    The wage series in the tables are computed by combining the wages for each occupation sampled. Before being combined, individual wage rates are weighted by the number of workers; the sample weight, adjusted for nonresponding establishments and other factors; and the occupation's scheduled hours of work. The sample weight reflects the inverse of each unit's probability of selection at each sample selection stage and four weight adjustment factors:

    1. The first factor adjusts for initial establishment nonresponse.

    2. The second factor adjusts for initial occupational nonresponse.

    3. The third factor adjusts for any special situations that may have occurred during data collection.

    4. The fourth factor, poststratification, also called benchmarking, is applied to the raw data to adjust survey sample weights so that the weights reflect the current count of employment by industry to derive average hourly earnings. Initial weights are derived when the sample of establishments is selected, reflecting employment distribution by industry at that time. Those weights may be up to 7 years old. Benchmarking adjusts initial weights to reflect the employment distribution by industry at the reference date of the data.

    The National Compensation Survey is voluntary, so a company official may refuse to participate in the initial survey or may be unwilling or unable to update previously collected data during a subsequent contact for one or more occupations. For those situations in which previous wage data cannot be updated, an estimate for the missing data is imputed, using information obtained from similar establishments and occupations.

    Not all calculated series meet the criteria for publication. Before any series is published, it is reviewed to make sure that the number of observations underlying it is sufficient. This review prevents the publication of a series that could reveal information about a specific establishment. Estimates of the number of workers represent the total in all establishments within the scope of the study, not the number actually surveyed. Because occupational structures among establishments differ, estimates of the number of workers obtained from the sample of establishments indicate only the relative importance of the occupational groups studied.

    Data reliability

    The data in this report are estimates from a scientifically selected probability sample. Two types of errors are possible in an estimate based on a sample survey: sampling errors and nonsampling errors.

    Sampling errors occur because observations come only from a sample and not from an entire population. The sample used for the NCS is one of a number of possible samples of the same size that could have been selected under the sample design. Estimates derived from the different samples would differ from one another. The standard error, or sampling error, is a measure of the variation among these differing estimates that indicates the precision with which an estimate from a particular sample approximates the average result of all possible samples. The relative standard error (RSE) is the standard error divided by the estimate. RSE data are provided alongside the earnings data in many of the presented tables in this report. The standard error can be used to calculate a confidence interval around a sample estimate. As an example, table 2 shows mean hourly earnings for all civilian full-time workers of $21.08 per hour and a relative standard error of 1.0 percent for this estimate. At the 90-percent level, the confidence interval for this estimate is from $20.73 to $22.43 ($21.08 × 1.645 × 0.010 = $0.346766, rounded to $0.35; $21.08 − 0.35 = $20.73; $21.08 + 0.35 = $21.43). In other words, if all possible samples were selected to estimate the population value, the interval from each sample would include the true population value approximately 90 percent of the time.

    Nonsampling errors also affect survey results and they can stem from many sources, such as inability to obtain information for some establishments, difficulties with survey definitions, inability of the respondents to provide correct information, and mistakes in recording or coding the data obtained. Although not specifically measured for this report, the nonsampling errors were expected to be minimal due to the extensive training of the field economists who gathered the survey data, to computer edits of the data, and to a detailed data review.

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    Appendix B: Occupational Descriptions (PDF)

    Appendix C: Survey Areas and Geographic Coverage

    This appendix lists the 227 geographic areas surveyed under the NCS.

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