Occupations with different wage variations

June 20, 2008

What do word processors and typists, statistical assistants, pipelayers, chefs and head cooks, and real estate sales agents have in common?

Percentile hourly wages, selected occupations, May 2006
[Chart data—TXT]

When earnings for these occupations are arranged from lowest to highest, workers at the 10th percentile in each occupation earned very similar wages--about $9.71 per hour. But at higher percentiles the occupational wages are very different.

For example, the 90th percentile wage of word processors and typists is $20.83 per hour; this amount if roughly twice the 10th percentile wage. In comparison, the chefs and head cooks at the 90th percentile hourly wage of $29.20 earn almost 3 times that occupation’s 10th percentile wage, and real estate sales agents at the 90th percentile (with hourly wages of $53.61) earn more than 5 times the wages of real estate sales agents at the 10th percentile.

These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. To learn more about occupational employment and earnings, see "Chart book: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2006," May 2008, Bulletin 2702. A percentile wage divides the workers in an occupation into two groups: those earning less, and those earning more. For example, a 10th percentile wage indicates that 10 percent workers earn less than the stated amount, and 90 percent earn more.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Occupations with different wage variations on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2008/jun/wk3/art05.htm (visited September 25, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.