National Compensation Survey - Wages

National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the West South Central Census Division, July 2008

U.S. Department of Labor
Hilda L. Solis, Secretary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Keith Hall, Commissioner
August 2009

Bulletin 2727



The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings, compensation cost trends, benefit incidence, and detailed benefit provisions. This bulletin presents estimates of occupational pay that originate from localities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas and are weighted to represent the West South Central Census Division as a whole. (For a list of the localities surveyed, see Appendix C.) The estimates include pay for workers in major sectors of the U.S. economy in 2008–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.

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Occupational earnings tables: West South Central Census Division, December 2007 – January 2009 (average reference date July 2008)

The 2008 NCS West South Central Census Division bulletin includes occupational earnings tables 1-21; relative standard errors of the estimates for tables 11-13, 15-17, and 19-21; 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.

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 2 through 4 present average wages by work level. Table 5 shows average wages by combined work levels. (For more information on how work levels are determined, see Appendix A.)

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 6 through 10 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 these sectors.

Full-time and part-time workers. Employees are classified as full time or part time on the basis of definitions used by each establishment. Tables 2 through 5, above, provide mean hourly earnings estimates for full-time and part-time workers by occupational group for the civilian sector, State and local government, and private industry, by work level. Tables 11 through 13 provide occupational mean and median hourly, weekly, and annual earnings estimates, as well as mean weekly and annual hours worked, by ownership sector.

Size of establishment. Estimates of mean hourly earnings for workers in major occupational groups by size of private industry establishment—1-49 workers, 50-99 workers, 100-499 workers, and 500 or more workers—are shown in table 14. Tables 15 and 16 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 for those in establishments with 100 workers or more, respectively.

Union and nonunion workers. Union workers are workers whose wages are determined through collective bargaining. Table 17 provides mean hourly earnings of union and nonunion workers in the civilian sector as a whole, State and local government, and private industry, by major occupational group. (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 salary. Incentive workers are workers whose wages are based at least partially on productivity payments, such piece rates, commissions, and production bonuses. Table 18 provides hourly earnings estimates for workers in the civilian and private sectors who are paid on a time or an incentive basis.

Private industry sector. Table 19 shows estimates of mean hourly earnings for workers, by industry sector, for major occupational groups. Industry sectors meeting publication criteria in the West South Central Census Division are: construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities, information, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and other services.

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 20 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.

Supervisory occupations. Table 21 includes estimates of mean and median weekly and annual earnings and mean weekly and annual hours for workers with supervisory responsibility, in the civilian sector.

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

Printing multiple tables

Multiple table selection. Wages tables 1-10, 11-21, and all wage tables are given here for ease of printing many tables at once.

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

Appendix A: Technical note

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 defines civilian workers as those who are employed in private industry or in State and local government. Workers employed in the Federal government, the military, agriculture, private households and the self-employed are excluded from the scope of the survey. For purposes of the 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 usually operates out of a single physical location. For State and local governments, an establishment is defined as an agency or entity such as a school district, hospital, or administrative body.

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

Field economists collect the data by contacting each establishment in the survey through a variety of methods, such as personal visit, telephone, and secured email.

Industry classification

The NCS sample is classified by the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For more detail on NAICS, see

Occupational selection and classification

The NCS uses the 2000 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system, as do all Federal statistical agencies. 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

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. Work levels are a ranking of the duties and responsibilities within an occupation, and these levels permit comparisons of wages across occupations. Work levels are determined by the total number of points given for specific aspects, or factors, of the work. 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 This bulletin includes earnings estimates by work level. It also 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.

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 2008 West South Central Census Division earnings estimates, see Appendix C.)

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 West South Central Census Division were compiled from locality data collected between December 2007 and January 2009. The average reference period is July 2008.


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

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

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.

Work schedules

To calculate earnings for various periods (hourly, weekly, and annual), the NCS collects data on work schedules, including the hours worked per day and per week, and the number of weeks worked annually. For hourly workers, scheduled hours worked per day and per week, exclusive of overtime, are recorded. For salaried workers, field economists record the typical number of hours actually worked because those exempt from overtime provisions often work beyond the assigned work schedule.

The earnings estimates for aircraft pilots, flight engineers, and flight attendants include flight pay and flight hours only; these estimates may not reflect the total earnings and hours worked. For more information on work schedules, see:

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, or benchmarking, is the adjustment of employment weights to insure that the survey data reflect industry ownership employment counts in proportions consistent with the private industry, State government, and local government sectors at the time of collection.

Imputation. 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.

Employment counts. Occupational structures differ among establishments; therefore the number of workers surveyed by the NCS, and the total number of workers represented by the survey that is given in appendix table 1, are not intended to convey an accurate employment count; rather, they indicate only the relative importance of the occupational groups studied in the survey.

Publication criteria. Not all calculated series meet the criteria for publication. Before any series is published, it is reviewed to make sure it meets specified statistical reliability and confidentiality criteria. This review prevents the publication of a series that could reveal information about a specific establishment or has a large sampling error.

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 relative standard error can be used to calculate a confidence interval around a sample estimate. For example, if the mean hourly earnings for all civilian, full-time workers is $20.62 per hour and the relative standard error is 0.7 percent, at the 90-percent level, the confidence interval for this estimate is from $20.38 to $20.86 ($20.62 × 1.645 × 0.007 = $0.2374393, rounded to $0.24; $20.62 - 0.24 = $20.38; $20.62 + 0.24 = $20.86). 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

The NCS uses Office of Management and Budget (OMB) area definitions in selecting areas for the survey. See for a list of current and historical OMB definitions.

Appendix C lists the geographic areas surveyed under the National Compensation Survey. Data from areas within Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas were used to compile the estimates for the West South Central census division. An asterisk (*) denotes metropolitan areas that include counties in States within different census divisions. For these metropolitan areas, data are divided by county among the respective States and contribute to the estimates of the appropiate census division.

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Last Modified Date: August 21, 2009

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