For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, March 25, 2015 USDL-15-0479
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OCCUPATIONAL EMPLOYMENT AND WAGES -- MAY 2014
The occupations with the largest employment in May 2014 were retail salespersons and
cashiers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These two occupations
combined made up nearly 6 percent of total U.S. employment, with employment levels of
4.6 million and 3.4 million, respectively. Of the 10 largest occupations, only registered
nurses, with an annual mean wage of $69,790, had an average wage above the U.S. all-
occupations mean of $47,230. The highest paying occupations overall included several
physician and dentist occupations, chief executives, nurse anesthetists, and petroleum
engineers. National employment and wage information for all occupations is shown in
The data in this news release are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program,
which produces employment and wage estimates for over 800 occupations for the nation,
states, and metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas; and by industry or ownership at the
national level. This release contains data on science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM) occupations. A list of occupations included in the STEM definition
used for this release is available at www.bls.gov/oes/stem_list.xlsx.
--The 10 largest occupations accounted for 21 percent of total employment in May 2014.
In addition to retail salespersons and cashiers, the largest occupations included
combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; general office
clerks; registered nurses; customer service representatives; and waiters and
--Most of the largest occupations were relatively low paying. Excluding registered
nurses, annual mean wages for the rest of the 10 largest occupations ranged
from $19,110 for combined food preparation and serving workers to $34,500 for
secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive.
Combined food preparation and serving workers also was one of the lowest paying
occupations overall, along with fast food cooks ($19,030), shampooers ($19,480),
and dishwashers ($19,540).
--There were over 8.3 million STEM jobs in May 2014, representing about 6.2 percent
of total U.S. employment. Seven of the 10 largest STEM occupations were related
to computers. These occupations included applications software developers, with
employment of 686,470; computer user support specialists (563,540); and computer
systems analysts (528,320). Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives of
technical and scientific products (335,540) was the largest STEM occupation that
was not specifically computer related. (See table 1.)
--Ninety-three of the 100 STEM occupations had mean wages significantly above the
all-occupations average. The highest paying STEM occupations included petroleum
engineers, with an annual mean wage of $147,520; physicists ($117,300); and the
three STEM-related management occupations. The lowest paying STEM occupations
included agricultural and food science technicians ($37,330) and forest and
conservation technicians ($37,990). (See table 1.)
--Office and administrative support was the largest occupational group, making up
about 16 percent of total U.S. employment. The next largest groups were sales
and related occupations and food preparation and serving related occupations,
which made up about 11 percent and 9 percent of U.S. employment, respectively.
The smallest occupational groups included farming, fishing, and forestry occupations;
legal occupations; and life, physical, and social science occupations, each making
up less than 1 percent of total employment.
--The highest paying occupational groups were management, legal, and computer
and mathematical occupations. The lowest paying occupational groups included
food preparation and serving related; personal care and service; and farming,
fishing, and forestry occupations, each with an annual mean wage of about
$25,000 or less. (See table 1.)
Occupational profiles for all occupations are available at www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm.
--Overall, the private sector accounted for about 84 percent of employment, but
made up a higher share of employment in some occupations. Occupations found
only in the private sector included flight attendants, oil and gas roustabouts,
funeral attendants, and a number of production occupations, such as semiconductor
processors and tire builders.
--Eight of the 10 largest occupations in the private sector were the same as those
in the economy as a whole. Stock clerks and order fillers and general and operations
managers rounded out the largest private sector occupations.
--Occupations found only in the public sector included tax examiners and collectors,
and revenue agents; judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates; and fish and
game wardens. Although found in both the public and private sectors, conservation
scientists, emergency management directors, zoologists and wildlife biologists, and
many types of postsecondary teachers also had above-average shares of their employment
in the public sector.
--Five of the 10 largest occupations in the public sector were related to education,
including elementary school teachers, except special education, with public sector
employment of over 1.2 million; teacher assistants (933,500); and secondary school
teachers, except special and career/technical education (845,480). These occupations
were found primarily in local government.
--The largest occupations in state government were correctional officers and jailers;
general office clerks; and secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal,
medical, and executive. Registered nurses, management analysts, and compliance
officers were among the largest occupations in federal government.
OES data by ownership are available at www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrci.htm.
--Health care and social assistance and retail trade were the industry sectors with
the largest employment. Over half of May 2014 employment in the health care and
social assistance sector was in healthcare related occupations. Registered nurses,
with sector employment of nearly 2.4 million; nursing assistants (1.3 million);
and personal care aides (1.2 million) were the largest occupations in this sector.
More than 60 percent of retail trade employment was in only 4 occupations: retail
salespersons, cashiers, stock clerks and order fillers, and first-line supervisors
of retail sales workers.
--Some occupations were highly concentrated in specific industries, while other
occupations were more widely distributed across industries. For example, about
81 percent of biochemists and biophysicists were found in only three industries:
scientific research and development services; pharmaceutical and medicine
manufacturing; and colleges, universities, and professional schools. On the
other hand, general office clerks were employed in over 280 industries, with
no single industry accounting for more than about 6 percent of jobs in this
--Industries with the highest all-occupations mean wages included software publishers,
computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, and several financial services
industries. These industries tended to have high employment concentrations of
occupations with high wages. For example, the largest occupations in the security
and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage industry included securities,
commodities, and financial services sales agents, with an annual mean wage of
$136,920; personal financial advisors ($119,180); and financial analysts
($110,510). By comparison, in restaurants and other eating places, the industry
with the lowest overall average wage, 4 of the 5 largest occupations had annual
mean wages below $25,000.
--Wages for individual occupations could also differ greatly across industries.
For example, wages for computer systems analysts varied by industry from
$58,940 in motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing to $118,770 in support
activities for mining. Wages for meeting, convention, and event planners ranged
from $26,550 in book stores and news dealers to $83,560 in aerospace product
and parts manufacturing.
OES national industry-specific data are available at www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrci.htm.
State and Local Area
--States and metropolitan areas with large total employment also tended to have
the largest employment of many individual occupations. However, employment
concentrations for a given occupation often varied by geographic area. For
example, as a percentage of total state employment, Massachusetts and Virginia
had about 2.9 and 2.6 times as many systems software developers, respectively,
as the U.S. as a whole. At the metropolitan area level, this occupation was
particularly concentrated in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., and the
Framingham, Mass., NECTA division, both of which had concentrations of systems
software developers nearly 10 times the U.S. average.
--Some occupations were especially concentrated geographically. For example, about
70 percent of petroleum engineers were employed in only three states: Texas,
Oklahoma, and California. Metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations
of this occupation included Midland, Texas, which had a concentration of
petroleum engineers nearly 72 times the U.S. average; Casper, Wyo.; and
--Wages for a given occupation also varied by area. In addition to having a high
employment concentration of systems software developers, San Jose-Sunnyvale-
Santa Clara, Calif., also was the highest paying metropolitan area for this
occupation, with an annual mean wage of $138,410. Wages for systems software
developers in other metropolitan areas ranged from $52,720 in Lafayette, La.,
to $124,220 in the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, Calif., metropolitan division. At
the state level, wages for this occupation ranged from $68,580 in North Dakota
to $124,070 in California.
OES data, including location quotients, by state and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan
area are available at www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm and