OES data provide estimates of mean and median wages paid in a wide range of detailed occupations. Because these data are available for different ownerships, such as private and federal, state, or local government, they may be used to compare mean or median wages of occupations across these groups. However, users should be aware that pay for a given occupation can vary across ownerships, industries, and geographic areas due to differences within occupations that are not accounted for in published data. For more information see the question below.
Can the OES data be used to compare private and government pay for similar work?
Occupational wages in the different ownership groups (the private sector, and state, local, and federal governments) are influenced by many factors that the OES measures cannot take into account. Thus, while one can obtain OES data that compare estimates of mean and median wages paid in a wide range of detailed occupations across ownership groups, those comparisons do not explain why they might be different. Among the many reasons are:
OES data are not designed for use in comparing federal and private sector pay because the OES data do not contain information about pay according to the level of work performed. BLS conducts a separate survey, the National Compensation Survey, which provides data by level of work for use by the President's Pay Agent. The President's Pay Agent, (the Directors of the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, and the Secretary of Labor), is charged by law with recommending federal pay adjustments to the President. Questions about federal pay comparability should be directed to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Due to reporting errors, employment and wage data for May 2008 for selected areas in Florida were removed from the BLS web site on September 21, 2009 for the following occupations:
Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists; Community and social service specialists, all other; Correctional officers and jailers; Eligibility interviewers, government programs; Emergency management specialists; First-line supervisors/managers of correctional officers; Fish and game wardens; Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates; Mental health and substance abuse social workers; Personal and home care aides; Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists; Psychiatric aides; Social and human service assistants; Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors; and Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents.
BLS removed May 2008 wage data for three U.S. Postal Service specific occupations ? (1) postal service clerks; (2) postal service mail carriers; and (3) postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators ? after determining that our standard methodology for estimating wages did not work well for these unique occupations. Revised May 2008 wage estimates for these occupations were posted on May 29, 2009. The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) database and the most recent OES news release were also updated on that day with the revised estimates.
Wage data for two occupations, (1) flight attendants and (2) airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers, were removed from tables on the BLS website in September 2008 because the annual wage figures were found to have been overestimated. Revised May 2007 wage estimates for these occupations were posted on February 12, 2009. The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) database and the most recent OES news release were also updated on that day with the revised estimates. Unfortunately, BLS is not able to publish corrected estimates for data prior to May 2007. We regret any inconvenience that this causes users.
On January 7, 2009, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published a Federal Register notice on a potential 2012 revision to the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). All comments sent TO OMB on or before April 7, 2009, will be considered part of the official record. Please see www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/federal_register_notices/notices/fr07ja09.pdf for more information.
Useful NAICS links:
Wage estimates for several teaching occupations in the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division, and New York state for November 2003 to May 2006 were removed from tables on the BLS website because the annual wage figures were found to have been overestimated. The error in procedures that had led to the overestimation was corrected prior to the publication of wage estimates for May 2007. Unfortunately, BLS is not able to publish corrected estimates for the earlier periods. We regret any inconvenience that this causes users.
Due to budget constraints, Occupational Employment Statistics has reduced the sample size of the May 2008 panel by 20 percent. Because OES estimates are produced from three years of pooled data, this one-time sample reduction will affect estimates for May 2008, May 2009, and May 2010. This reduction is expected to decrease the number of published employment estimates by at least five percent, or about 25,000 estimates, and will decrease the accuracy of the remaining estimates. The number and quality of wage estimates are also expected to decline. These cutbacks are being implemented in response to a reduction in funding to the BLS that resulted from The 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted on December 26, 2007.
With the issuance of data for May 2005, the OES program has incorporated redefined metropolitan areas as designated by the Office of Management and Budget. OES data are available for 375 metropolitan statistical areas and 34 metropolitan divisions.
Due to budget constraints in the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, beginning with the release of the May 2005 estimates in the Spring of 2006, OES will return to once a year publication. Estimates for November 2005 will not be published.
Last Modified Date: January 15, 2013