Economic News Release

Occupational Employment and Wages Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, March 25, 2015                        USDL-15-0479

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Media contact:         (202) 691-5902 •

                     OCCUPATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AND WAGES -- MAY 2014

The occupations with the largest employment in May 2014 were retail salespersons and
cashiers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These two occupations
combined made up nearly 6 percent of total U.S. employment, with employment levels of
4.6 million and 3.4 million, respectively. Of the 10 largest occupations, only registered
nurses, with an annual mean wage of $69,790, had an average wage above the U.S. all-
occupations mean of $47,230. The highest paying occupations overall included several
physician and dentist occupations, chief executives, nurse anesthetists, and petroleum
engineers. National employment and wage information for all occupations is shown in 
table 1.

The data in this news release are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program,
which produces employment and wage estimates for over 800 occupations for the nation,
states, and metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas; and by industry or ownership at the
national level. This release contains data on science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM) occupations. A list of occupations included in the STEM definition
used for this release is available at


   --The 10 largest occupations accounted for 21 percent of total employment in May 2014.
     In addition to retail salespersons and cashiers, the largest occupations included
     combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; general office
     clerks; registered nurses; customer service representatives; and waiters and

   --Most of the largest occupations were relatively low paying. Excluding registered
     nurses, annual mean wages for the rest of the 10 largest occupations ranged
     from $19,110 for combined food preparation and serving workers to $34,500 for
     secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive.
     Combined food preparation and serving workers also was one of the lowest paying
     occupations overall, along with fast food cooks ($19,030), shampooers ($19,480),
     and dishwashers ($19,540).

   --There were over 8.3 million STEM jobs in May 2014, representing about 6.2 percent
     of total U.S. employment. Seven of the 10 largest STEM occupations were related
     to computers. These occupations included applications software developers, with
     employment of 686,470; computer user support specialists (563,540); and computer
     systems analysts (528,320). Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives of
     technical and scientific products (335,540) was the largest STEM occupation that
     was not specifically computer related. (See table 1.)

   --Ninety-three of the 100 STEM occupations had mean wages significantly above the
     all-occupations average. The highest paying STEM occupations included petroleum
     engineers, with an annual mean wage of $147,520; physicists ($117,300); and the
     three STEM-related management occupations. The lowest paying STEM occupations
     included agricultural and food science technicians ($37,330) and forest and
     conservation technicians ($37,990). (See table 1.)

   --Office and administrative support was the largest occupational group, making up
     about 16 percent of total U.S. employment. The next largest groups were sales
     and related occupations and food preparation and serving related occupations,
     which made up about 11 percent and 9 percent of U.S. employment, respectively.
     The smallest occupational groups included farming, fishing, and forestry occupations;
     legal occupations; and life, physical, and social science occupations, each making
     up less than 1 percent of total employment.

   --The highest paying occupational groups were management, legal, and computer
     and mathematical occupations. The lowest paying occupational groups included
     food preparation and serving related; personal care and service; and farming,
     fishing, and forestry occupations, each with an annual mean wage of about
     $25,000 or less. (See table 1.)

Occupational profiles for all occupations are available at


   --Overall, the private sector accounted for about 84 percent of employment, but
     made up a higher share of employment in some occupations. Occupations found
     only in the private sector included flight attendants, oil and gas roustabouts,
     funeral attendants, and a number of production occupations, such as semiconductor
     processors and tire builders.

   --Eight of the 10 largest occupations in the private sector were the same as those
     in the economy as a whole. Stock clerks and order fillers and general and operations
     managers rounded out the largest private sector occupations.

   --Occupations found only in the public sector included tax examiners and collectors,
     and revenue agents; judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates; and fish and
     game wardens. Although found in both the public and private sectors, conservation
     scientists, emergency management directors, zoologists and wildlife biologists, and
     many types of postsecondary teachers also had above-average shares of their employment
     in the public sector.

   --Five of the 10 largest occupations in the public sector were related to education,
     including elementary school teachers, except special education, with public sector
     employment of over 1.2 million; teacher assistants (933,500); and secondary school
     teachers, except special and career/technical education (845,480). These occupations
     were found primarily in local government.

   --The largest occupations in state government were correctional officers and jailers;
     general office clerks; and secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal,
     medical, and executive. Registered nurses, management analysts, and compliance
     officers were among the largest occupations in federal government.

OES data by ownership are available at


   --Health care and social assistance and retail trade were the industry sectors with
     the largest employment. Over half of May 2014 employment in the health care and
     social assistance sector was in healthcare related occupations. Registered nurses,
     with sector employment of nearly 2.4 million; nursing assistants (1.3 million);
     and personal care aides (1.2 million) were the largest occupations in this sector.
     More than 60 percent of retail trade employment was in only 4 occupations: retail
     salespersons, cashiers, stock clerks and order fillers, and first-line supervisors
     of retail sales workers. 

   --Some occupations were highly concentrated in specific industries, while other
     occupations were more widely distributed across industries. For example, about
     81 percent of biochemists and biophysicists were found in only three industries:
     scientific research and development services; pharmaceutical and medicine
     manufacturing; and colleges, universities, and professional schools. On the
     other hand, general office clerks were employed in over 280 industries, with
     no single industry accounting for more than about 6 percent of jobs in this

   --Industries with the highest all-occupations mean wages included software publishers,
     computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, and several financial services
     industries. These industries tended to have high employment concentrations of
     occupations with high wages. For example, the largest occupations in the security
     and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage industry included securities,
     commodities, and financial services sales agents, with an annual mean wage of
     $136,920; personal financial advisors ($119,180); and financial analysts
     ($110,510). By comparison, in restaurants and other eating places, the industry
     with the lowest overall average wage, 4 of the 5 largest occupations had annual
     mean wages below $25,000.

   --Wages for individual occupations could also differ greatly across industries.
     For example, wages for computer systems analysts varied by industry from
     $58,940 in motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing to $118,770 in support
     activities for mining. Wages for meeting, convention, and event planners ranged
     from $26,550 in book stores and news dealers to $83,560 in aerospace product
     and parts manufacturing.

OES national industry-specific data are available at

State and Local Area

   --States and metropolitan areas with large total employment also tended to have
     the largest employment of many individual occupations. However, employment
     concentrations for a given occupation often varied by geographic area. For
     example, as a percentage of total state employment, Massachusetts and Virginia
     had about 2.9 and 2.6 times as many systems software developers, respectively,
     as the U.S. as a whole. At the metropolitan area level, this occupation was
     particularly concentrated in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., and the
     Framingham, Mass., NECTA division, both of which had concentrations of systems
     software developers nearly 10 times the U.S. average.

   --Some occupations were especially concentrated geographically. For example, about
     70 percent of petroleum engineers were employed in only three states: Texas,
     Oklahoma, and California. Metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations
     of this occupation included Midland, Texas, which had a concentration of
     petroleum engineers nearly 72 times the U.S. average; Casper, Wyo.; and
     Houston-Sugarland-Baytown, Texas.

   --Wages for a given occupation also varied by area. In addition to having a high
     employment concentration of systems software developers, San Jose-Sunnyvale-
     Santa Clara, Calif., also was the highest paying metropolitan area for this
     occupation, with an annual mean wage of $138,410. Wages for systems software
     developers in other metropolitan areas ranged from $52,720 in Lafayette, La.,
     to $124,220 in the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, Calif., metropolitan division. At
     the state level, wages for this occupation ranged from $68,580 in North Dakota
     to $124,070 in California.

OES data, including location quotients, by state and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan
area are available at and, respectively.

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Last Modified Date: March 25, 2015
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