News Release Information


Thursday, May 9, 2013


Technical Information:
Media contact:
  • (404) 893-4220

Occupational Employment and Wages in Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, May 2012

Workers in the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $19.80 in May 2012, about 10 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 sales and related, construction and extraction, and computer and mathematical.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including healthcare practitioners and technical, food preparation and serving related, and sales and related. Conversely, 10 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including education, training, and library; production; and business and financial operations. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

One occupational group—food preparation and serving related—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville had 29,960 jobs in food preparation and serving related, accounting for 10.3 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 8.9-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $9.77, measurably below the national wage of $10.28.

With employment of 7,750, combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food was the largest occupation within the food preparation and serving related group, followed by waiters and waitresses (6,480) and restaurant cooks (2,910). Among the higher paying jobs were first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers, and restaurant cooks, with mean hourly wages of $15.84 and $10.35, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were fast food cooks ($8.59) and food preparation and serving workers, including fast food ($8.67). (Detailed occupational data for food preparation and serving related 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 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2012
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Charleston United States Charleston Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0% 100.0% $22.01 $19.80* -10


4.9 4.6* 52.20 47.58* -9

Business and financial operations

4.9 4.1* 33.44 29.64* -11

Computer and mathematical

2.7 2.3* 38.55 31.23* -19

Architecture and engineering

1.8 2.5* 37.98 33.50* -12

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.7* 32.87 27.33* -17

Community and social services

1.4 1.0* 21.27 18.88* -11


0.8 0.7* 47.39 37.15* -22

Education, training, and library

6.4 5.0* 24.62 21.87* -11

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.0* 26.20 21.52* -18

Healthcare practitioner and technical

5.9 7.8* 35.35 31.99* -10

Healthcare support

3.0 2.8 13.36 13.29 -1

Protective service

2.5 2.5 20.70 16.86* -19

Food preparation and serving related

8.9 10.3* 10.28 9.77* -5

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.3 3.7* 12.34 10.91* -12

Personal care and service

2.9 2.7 11.80 11.41 -3

Sales and related

10.6 11.7* 18.26 14.65* -20

Office and administrative support

16.4 16.3 16.54 15.52* -6

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 11.65 15.57* 34

Construction and extraction

3.8 3.7 21.61 17.41* -19

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.2* 21.09 19.89* -6


6.6 5.8* 16.59 19.52* 18

Transportation and material moving

6.7 6.5 16.15 15.64 -3

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in Charleston 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 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area, above average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the food preparation and serving related group. For instance, chefs and head cooks were employed at 3.5 times the national rate in Charleston. On the other hand, institution and cafeteria cooks had a location quotient of 1.0 in Charleston, 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 South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

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 Charleston 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 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,576 establishments with a response rate of 74 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 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, S.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area  includes Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester 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.

Table 1. Employment and wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey, by occupation, Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2012
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual(4)

Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations


Chefs and Head Cooks


First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers


Cooks, Fast Food


Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria


Cooks, Restaurant


Cooks, Short Order


Cooks, All Other


Food Preparation Workers




Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food


Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop


Waiters and Waitresses


Food Servers, Nonrestaurant


Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers




Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop


(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC, 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: May 9, 2013