Occupational Employment Statistics


The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program conducts a semiannual mail survey designed to produce estimates of employment and wages for specific occupations. The OES program collects data on wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in order to produce employment and wage estimates for about 800 occupations. Data from self-employed persons are not collected and are not included in the estimates. The OES program produces these occupational estimates for the nation as a whole, by state, by metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area, and by industry or ownership. The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces occupational employment and wage estimates for over 450 industry classifications at the national level. The industry classifications correspond to the sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industrial groups.

The OES program surveys approximately 200,000 establishments per panel (every six months), taking three years to fully collect the sample of 1.2 million establishments. To reduce respondent burden, the collection is on a three-year survey cycle that ensures that establishments are surveyed at most once every three years. The estimates for occupations in nonfarm establishments are based on OES data collected for the reference months of May and November.

The OES survey is a federal-state cooperative program between the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS provides the procedures and technical support, draws the sample, and produces the survey materials, while the SWAs collect the data. SWAs from all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands participate in the survey. Occupational employment and wage rate estimates at the national level are produced by BLS using data from the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Employers who respond to states' requests to participate in the OES survey make these estimates possible.

The employment data are benchmarked to an average of the May and November employment levels. The most recent wage data are for May 2015. The OES survey began using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in 2002. In May 2012, the OES survey switched to the 2012 NAICS classification system from the 2007 NAICS. Data prior to 2002 are based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.

In 1999, the OES survey began using the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The May 2010 OES estimates marked the first set of estimates based, in part, on data collected for the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification system. The May 2014 OES estimates are all 2010 SOC occupations.

Prior to 1996, the OES program collected only occupational employment data for selected industries in each year of the three-year survey cycle, and produced only industry-specific estimates of occupational employment. The 1996 survey round was the first year that the OES program began collecting occupational employment and wage data in every state. In addition, the program's three-year survey cycle was modified to collect data from all covered industries each year. 1997 is the earliest year available for which the OES program produced estimates of cross-industry as well as industry-specific occupational employment and wages.

The May 2015 OES estimates are benchmarked to the average of the May 2015 and November 2014 reference periods. May 2015 employment and wage estimates are based on all data collected from establishments in the May 2015, November 2014, May 2014, November 2013, May 2013, and November 2012 semiannual samples. Wages for the current panel, May 2015, need no adjustment. However, wages in the five previous panels have been adjusted to the May 2015 reference period by using the over-the-year wage changes in the most applicable national Employment Cost Index series. For additional information, see the Technical Notes for May 2015 OES Estimates.

Survey Coverage and Scope

Occupational employment and wage estimates available on the OES web site

Uses of OES data

Last Modified Date: March 30, 2016

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