Economic News Release

Occupational Employment and Wages Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, March 30, 2016                       USDL-16-0661

Technical information: (202) 691-6569  *  *
Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  *

                       OCCUPATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AND WAGES -- MAY 2015

Healthcare occupations had employment of 12 million in May 2015, representing nearly
9 percent of total national employment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Registered nurses, with more than 2.7 million jobs, was the largest healthcare
occupation. The largest healthcare occupations also included nursing assistants (1.4
million), home health aides (820,630), and licensed practical and licensed vocational
nurses (697,250).

The data in this news release are the May 2015 employment and wage estimates from the
Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. These
estimates cover over 800 occupations for the nation, states, and nearly 600 metropolitan
and nonmetropolitan areas; and for more than 460 industry classifications at the national

Some healthcare occupations were among the highest paying occupations overall, including
several physician and dentist occupations. Nurse anesthetists, with an annual mean wage
of $160,250; podiatrists ($136,180); and pharmacists ($119,270) also were among the
highest paying healthcare occupations. The lowest paying healthcare occupations included
home health aides ($22,870) and veterinary assistants and laboratory animal caretakers
($25,940). National employment and wage information for all occupations is shown in
table 1.

Highlights from the May 2015 OES data:

Production occupations

   --Production occupations had total employment of nearly 9.1 million and an annual
     mean wage of $36,220 across all industries. (See table 1.) Among manufacturing
     industries, the pay for these occupations varied widely.

   --Manufacturing industries with the highest wages for production occupations
     included petroleum and coal products manufacturing ($62,140) and basic chemical
     manufacturing ($55,230).

   --Manufacturing industries with the lowest wages for production occupations
     included seafood product preparation and packaging ($25,860), animal
     slaughtering and processing ($27,460), and several apparel, textile, and
     leather products industries.

   --Production occupations made up 6.6 percent of national employment, but over
     11 percent of employment in Wisconsin and nearly 13 percent of employment in

   --Production occupations made up 35 percent of employment in Elkhart-Goshen, Ind.,
     the highest employment share of any metropolitan area. Dalton, Ga.; Columbus,
     Ind.; and Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, N.C., also were among the metropolitan areas
     with the highest shares of production occupations.

OES national industry-specific data are available from

OES data by state and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan area are available from and,

Construction and extraction occupations

   --Construction and extraction occupations had employment of 5.5 million, representing
     nearly 4 percent of national employment. (See table 1.)

   --Construction laborers (887,580), carpenters (639,190), and electricians (592,230)
     were the largest construction occupations. (See table 1.)

   --States with the highest concentrations of construction and extraction occupations
     included Wyoming and North Dakota, which each had nearly three times as many
     construction and extraction jobs as a share of total employment than the United
     States as a whole.

   --Metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of construction and extraction
     occupations included several areas in Texas; Farmington, N.M.; and Greeley, Colo.

Typical entry-level education

   --Sixty-four percent of employment was in occupations that typically require either
     a high school diploma or equivalent or no formal educational credential for entry,
     such as retail sales occupations, general office clerks, and customer service

   --Occupations typically requiring a bachelor's degree for entry made up 21 percent
     of national employment, but nearly 42 percent of employment in the District of
     Columbia and over 26 percent of employment in Massachusetts.

   --States with the lowest shares of occupations typically requiring a bachelor's
     degree for entry included Nevada (15 percent) and North Dakota (16 percent). 

   --Average wages were generally higher for occupations that require more education.
     Annual mean wages were $25,000 for occupations that typically require no formal
     educational credential for entry, $41,730 for occupations typically requiring
     high school or the equivalent, and $53,730 for occupations typically requiring
     an associate's degree.

   --The annual mean wage for occupations that typically require a bachelor's degree
     for entry was $82,260 nationally, but varied from $60,240 in Montana to $104,840
     in the District of Columbia.

Additional charts of employment and wages by typical entry-level educational requirement
are available at

STEM occupations

   --There were nearly 8.6 million science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
     (STEM) jobs representing 6.2 percent of total U.S. employment. 

   --Seven of the 10 largest STEM occupations were related to computers, and included
     applications software developers (747,730) and computer user support specialists
     (585,060). (See table 1.)

   --Areas with the highest employment shares of STEM occupations included California-
     Lexington Park, Md. (nearly 23 percent of employment), and San Jose-Sunnyvale-
     Santa Clara, Calif. (22 percent).

   --STEM occupations were less prevalent (approximately 1 percent of employment) in
     Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas; Gadsden, Ala.; and Ocean City, N.J.

   --STEM occupations had an annual mean wage of $87,570, compared with $45,700 for
     non-STEM occupations. Ninety-three of the 100 STEM occupations had mean wages
     significantly above the all-occupations average of $48,320. (See table 1.)

   --The highest paying STEM occupations included petroleum engineers ($149,590),
     physicists ($118,500), and the three STEM-related management occupations. (See
     table 1.)

   --The lowest paying STEM occupations included forest and conservation technicians
     ($38,260) and agricultural and food science technicians ($39,000). (See table 1.)

Additional STEM charts are available at

Largest occupations

   --The largest occupations overall were retail salespersons (4.6 million) and
     cashiers (3.5 million). Retail salespersons also was the largest occupation in
     36 of the 50 states. (See table 1.)

   --The largest occupations nationally also included combined food preparation and
     serving workers (3.2 million), general office clerks (2.9 million), registered
     nurses (2.7 million), and customer service representatives (2.6 million). (See
     table 1.)

   --Most of the largest occupations were relatively low paying. For example, retail
     salespersons ($26,340), cashiers ($20,990), and combined food preparation and
     serving workers ($19,710) all had annual mean wages significantly below the
     all-occupations average. (See table 1.)

   --Registered nurses was the largest occupation with an above-average wage
     ($71,000). (See table 1.)

Public sector occupations

   --The public sector made up nearly 16 percent of employment and had a different
     occupational mix from the private sector.

   --Many of the largest public sector occupations were related to education,
     including elementary school teachers, except special education (public sector
     employment of 1.2 million); teacher assistants (956,850); and secondary school
     teachers, except special and career/technical education (847,520).

   --Police and sheriff's patrol officers (647,880), general office clerks (521,180),
     and correctional officers and jailers (407,050) also were among the occupations
     with the highest public sector employment.

   OES data by ownership are available from

More information

The Occupational Employment Statistics program produces employment and wage estimates for
over 800 occupations for all industries combined in the nation; the 50 states and the
District of Columbia; 432 metropolitan areas and divisions; 167 nonmetropolitan areas;
and Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. National estimates are also available
by industry for NAICS sectors, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit industries, and by
ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals. Additional OES data are
available at

This release contains data on STEM occupations. A list of occupations included in the 
STEM definition used for this release is available at
Data on employment by the typical education level required to enter an occupation are
based on education and training categories from the BLS Employment Projections program.
Education and training levels assigned to each occupation are available at

 |                                                                                      |
 |                      Introduction of New Metropolitan Area Definitions               |
 |                                                                                      |
 |With the issuance of data for May 2015, the OES program has incorporated redefined    |
 |metropolitan area definitions as designated by the Office of Management and Budget.   |
 |OES data are available for 394 metropolitan areas, 38 metropolitan divisions, and 167 |
 |OES-defined nonmetropolitan areas. A listing of the areas and their definitions can be|
 |found at                                         |

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Last Modified Date: March 30, 2016
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