OCCUPATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AND WAGES IN TACOMA
Workers in the Tacoma Metropolitan Division had an average (mean) hourly wage of $22.36 in May 2011, about 3 percent above the nationwide average of $21.74, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were significantly higher than their respective national averages in 12 of the 22 major occupational groups, including construction and extraction, healthcare practitioners and technical, and protective service. Five groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including legal; arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media; and computer and mathematical.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 8 of the 22 occupational groups, including construction and extraction, healthcare practitioners and technical, and food preparation and serving related. Conversely, eight groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including production, management, and computer and mathematical. (See table A and box note at end of release.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Tacoma||United States||Tacoma||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
One occupational grouphealthcare practitioners and technicalwas chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Tacoma had 17,630 jobs in healthcare practitioners and technical, accounting for 6.9 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 5.9-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $39.90, measurably above the national wage of $34.97.
With employment of 6,140, registered nurses was the largest occupation within the healthcare practitioners and technical group, followed by licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (1,800) and medical records and health information technicians (760). Among the higher paying jobs were obstetricians and gynecologists, and general internists, with mean hourly wages of $109.48 and $101.47, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were dietetic technicians ($14.77) and medical records and health information technicians ($17.52). (Detailed occupational data for healthcare practitioners and technical are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/2011/may/oes_45104.htm.)
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 Tacoma Metropolitan Division, above average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the healthcare practitioners and technical group. For instance, surgeons were employed at 2.8 times the national rate in Tacoma, and family and general practitioners, at 2.4 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, respiratory therapists had a location quotient of 1.0 in Tacoma, indicating that this particular occupations 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 Washington Employment Security Department. The OES survey provides estimates of employment and hourly and annual wages for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and nearly 800 non-military detailed occupations for the nation, states, metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan divisions, and nonmetropolitan areas.
OES wage and employment data for the 22 major occupational groups in the Tacoma metropolitan division 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 also are surveyed, but their data are not included in this release. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Forms are mailed to approximately 200,000 establishments in May and November of each year for a 3-year period. The nationwide response rate for the May 2011 survey was 77.3 percent based on establishments and 73.3 percent based on employment. May 2011 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2011, November 2010, May 2010, November 2009, May 2009, and November 2008. The sample in the Tacoma Metropolitan Division included 2,386 establishments with a response rate of 76 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to www.bls.gov/news.release/ocwage.tn.htm.
The May 2011 OES estimates mark the first set of estimates based in part on data collected using the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Nearly all the occupations in this release are 2010 SOC occupations; however, some are not. The May 2012 OES data will reflect the full set of detailed occupations in the 2010 SOC. For a list of all occupations, including 2010 SOC occupations, and how data collected on two structures were combined, see the OES Frequently Asked Questions online at www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm#Ques41.
The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
The Tacoma, Wash. Metropolitan Division  includes Pierce County.
OES data are available on our regional web page at www.bls.gov/ro9/home.htm. If you have additional questions, contact the San Francisco Economic Analysis and Information Unit at (415) 625-2270. Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; TDD message referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual(4)|
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
Dietitians and Nutritionists
Family and General Practitioners
Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Physicians and Surgeons, All Other
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
Orthotists and Prosthetists
Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Workers, All Other
Last Modified Date: July 16, 2012