Workers in the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $20.27 in May 2012, about 8 percent below the nationwide average of $22.01, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were significantly lower than their respective national averages in 17 of the 22 major occupational groups, including personal care and service, healthcare practitioners and technical, and construction and extraction.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 5 of the 22 occupational groups, including sales and related, healthcare practitioners and technical, and office and administrative support. Conversely, 11 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including food preparation and serving related; education, training, and library; and business and financial operations. (See table A and box note at end of release.)
One occupational groupoffice and administrative supportwas chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Birmingham-Hoover had 86,010 jobs in office and administrative support, accounting for 17.7 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 16.4-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $15.86, measurably below the national wage of $16.54.
With employment of 11,470, secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive was the largest occupation within the office and administrative support group, followed by customer service representatives (10,320) and general office clerks (8,990). Among the higher paying jobs were first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, and executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants, with mean hourly wages of $26.16 and $24.90, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were stock clerks and order fillers ($10.93) and receptionists and information clerks ($11.59). (Detailed occupational data for office and administrative support are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/2012/may/oes_13820.htm.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Birmingham||United States||Birmingham||Percent difference (1)|
Total, all occupations
Business and financial operations
Computer and mathematical
Architecture and engineering
Life, physical, and social science
Community and social services
Education, training, and library
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media
Healthcare practitioner and technical
Food preparation and serving related
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance
Personal care and service
Sales and related
Office and administrative support
Farming, fishing, and forestry
Construction and extraction
Installation, maintenance, and repair
Transportation and material moving
Location quotients allow us to explore the occupational make-up of a metropolitan area by comparing the composition of jobs in an area relative to the national average. (See table 1.) For example, a location quotient of 2.0 indicates that an occupation accounts for twice the share of employment in the area than it does nationally. In the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area, above average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the office and administrative support group. For instance, government programs eligibility interviewers were employed at 2.4 times the national rate in Birmingham, and legal secretaries, at 2.2 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks had a location quotient of 1.0 in Birmingham, indicating that this particular occupation's local and national employment shares were similar.
These statistics are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Alabama Department of Labor.
With the release of the May 2012 estimates, OES data are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system for the first time. The OES survey provides estimates of employment and hourly and annual wages for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and more than 800 detailed occupations for the nation, states, metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan divisions, and nonmetropolitan areas. In addition, employment and wage estimates for 94 minor groups and 458 broad occupations are available in the national data for the first time. Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/soc.
The May 2012 OES estimates are the first to be produced using the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2012 NAICS is available on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/bls/naics.htm .
OES wage and employment data for the 22 major occupational groups in the Birmingham metropolitan statistical area were compared to their respective national averages based on statistical significance testing. Only those occupations with wages or employment shares above or below the national wage or share after testing for significance at the 90-percent confidence level meet the criteria.
NOTE: A value that is statistically different from another does not necessarily mean that the difference has economic or practical significance. Statistical significance is concerned with the ability to make confident statements about a universe based on a sample. It is entirely possible that a large difference between two values is not significantly different statistically, while a small difference is, since both the size and heterogeneity of the sample affect the relative error of the data being tested.
The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual mail survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are also surveyed, but their data are not included in the national estimates. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Forms are mailed to approximately 200,000 sampled establishments in May and November each year for a 3-year period. May 2012 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected in May 2012, November 2011, May 2011, November 2010, May 2010, and November 2009. The overall national response rate for the six panels is 76.6 percent based on establishments and 72.9 percent based on employment. The sample in the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area included 3,528 establishments with a response rate of 78 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to www.bls.gov/news.release/ocwage.tn.htm.
The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
The Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. Metropolitan Statistical Area  includes Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, and Walker Counties.
OES data are available on our regional web page at www.bls.gov/ro4/home.htm. Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm. Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/oes/2012/may/methods_statement.pdf. Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 800-877-8339.
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual (4)|
Office and Administrative Support Occupations
First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers
Switchboard Operators, Including Answering Service
Bill and Account Collectors
Billing and Posting Clerks
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks
Financial Clerks, All Other
Court, Municipal, and License Clerks
Credit Authorizers, Checkers, and Clerks
Customer Service Representatives
Eligibility Interviewers, Government Programs
Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks
Interviewers, Except Eligibility and Loan
Library Assistants, Clerical
Loan Interviewers and Clerks
New Accounts Clerks
Human Resources Assistants, Except Payroll and Timekeeping
Receptionists and Information Clerks
Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks
Information and Record Clerks, All Other
Cargo and Freight Agents
Couriers and Messengers
Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers
Dispatchers, Except Police, Fire, and Ambulance
Meter Readers, Utilities
Postal Service Clerks
Postal Service Mail Carriers
Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators
Production, Planning, and Expediting Clerks
Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks
Stock Clerks and Order Fillers
Weighers, Measurers, Checkers, and Samplers, Recordkeeping
Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive
Data Entry Keyers
Word Processors and Typists
Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks
Mail Clerks and Mail Machine Operators, Except Postal Service
Office Clerks, General
Office Machine Operators, Except Computer
Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other
Last Modified Date: April 30, 2013