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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Birmingham-Hoover,
May 2012

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 group—office and administrative support—was 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

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2012
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Birmingham United States Birmingham Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0% 100.0% $22.01 $20.27* -8


4.9 4.2* 52.20 52.06 0

Business and financial operations

4.9 4.0* 33.44 31.48* -6

Computer and mathematical

2.7 2.4* 38.55 34.42* -11

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.4* 37.98 32.67* -14

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.5* 32.87 27.91* -15

Community and social services

1.4 0.9* 21.27 20.00* -6


0.8 0.8 47.39 45.07 -5

Education, training, and library

6.4 5.2* 24.62 24.51 0

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.3 26.20 17.49* -33

Healthcare practitioner and technical

5.9 7.7* 35.35 30.61* -13

Healthcare support

3.0 2.7* 13.36 12.09* -10

Protective service

2.5 2.7 20.70 16.89* -18

Food preparation and serving related

8.9 7.3* 10.28 9.60* -7

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.3 2.9* 12.34 10.68* -13

Personal care and service

2.9 2.7 11.80 10.02* -15

Sales and related

10.6 12.8* 18.26 17.32* -5

Office and administrative support

16.4 17.7* 16.54 15.86* -4

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 11.65 15.80* 36

Construction and extraction

3.8 4.4* 21.61 18.82* -13

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 5.0* 21.09 20.50 -3


6.6 6.3 16.59 16.00* -4

Transportation and material moving

6.7 6.9 16.15 14.68* -9

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in Birmingham is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
* The percent share of employment or mean hourly wage for this area is significantly different from the national average of all areas at the 90-percent confidence level.

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

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 .

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.

Technical Note

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

Area definitions

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.

Additional information

OES data are available on our regional web page at Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at 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.

OOH Earnings Table Extraction Wizard - output frame
Table 1. Employment and wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey, by occupation, Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2012
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


Telephone Operators


Bill and Account Collectors


Billing and Posting Clerks


Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks


Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks


Procurement Clerks




Financial Clerks, All Other


Brokerage Clerks


Correspondence Clerks


Court, Municipal, and License Clerks


Credit Authorizers, Checkers, and Clerks


Customer Service Representatives


Eligibility Interviewers, Government Programs


File Clerks


Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks


Interviewers, Except Eligibility and Loan


Library Assistants, Clerical


Loan Interviewers and Clerks


New Accounts Clerks


Order 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


Legal Secretaries


Medical Secretaries


Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive


Computer Operators


Data Entry Keyers


Word Processors and Typists


Desktop Publishers


Insurance Claims and Policy Processing Clerks


Mail Clerks and Mail Machine Operators, Except Postal Service


Office Clerks, General


Office Machine Operators, Except Computer


Statistical Assistants


Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other


(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in Birmingham-Hoover, AL, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations do not sum to the totals because the totals include occupations not shown separately. Estimates do not include self-employed workers.
(3) The location quotient is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average, and a location quotient less than one indicates the occupation is less prevalent in the area than average.
(4) Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a 'year-round, full-time' hours figure of 2,080 hours; for those occupations where there is not an hourly mean wage published, the annual wage has been directly calculated from the reported survey data.
(5) Estimate not released.


Last Modified Date: April 30, 2013