Technical Notes for May 2016 OES Estimates
Scope of the survey
The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual
survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and
salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OES
data available from BLS include cross-industry occupational employment and
wage estimates for the nation; over 650 areas, including states and the
District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), metropolitan
divisions, nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national
industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5-
and 6-digit industry levels; and national estimates by ownership across
all industries and for schools and hospitals.
The OES survey is a cooperative effort between BLS and the State
Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS funds the survey and provides the
procedures and technical support, while the State Workforce Agencies
collect most of the data. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of
about 1.2 million establishments. Each year, two
semiannual panels of approximately 200,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one
panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by mail, Internet or other electronic means, email, telephone, or personal visit.
The May 2016 estimates are based
on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period:
May 2016, November 2015, May 2015, November 2014, May 2014, and November
2013. The overall national response rate for the six panels, based on the
50 states and the District of Columbia, is 73 percent based on
establishments and 69 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The
unweighted employment of sampled establishments across all six semiannual
panels represents approximately 58 percent of total national employment.
The occupational coding system
The OES survey categorizes workers into 821 detailed occupations based
on the Office of Management and Budget's 2010 Standard Occupational
Classification (SOC) system. Together, these detailed occupations make up
22 of the 23 SOC major occupational groups. Major group 55, Military
Specific Occupations, is not included.
For more information about the SOC system, please see the BLS website
The industry coding system
The May 2016 OES estimates use the 2012 North American Industry
Classification System (NAICS). For more information about NAICS, see the
BLS website at https://www.bls.gov/bls/naics.htm.
The OES survey excludes the majority of the agricultural sector, with
the exception of logging (NAICS 113310), support activities for crop
production (NAICS 1151), and support activities for animal production
(NAICS 1152). Private households (NAICS 814) also are excluded. OES
federal government data include the U.S. Postal Service and the federal
executive branch only. All other industries, including state and local
government, are covered by the survey.
The OES survey draws its sample from state unemployment insurance (UI)
files. Supplemental sources are used for rail transportation (NAICS 4821)
and Guam because they do not report to the UI program. The OES survey
sample is stratified by metropolitan and nonmetropolitan area, industry,
To provide the most occupational coverage, larger employers are more
likely to be selected than smaller employers. A census is taken of the
executive branch of the federal government, the U.S. Postal Service, and
Occupational employment is the estimate of total wage and salary
employment in an occupation. The OES survey defines employment as the
number of workers who can be classified as full- or part-time employees,
including workers on paid vacations or other types of paid leave; workers
on unpaid short-term absences; salaried officers, executives, and staff
members of incorporated firms; employees temporarily assigned to other
units; and employees for whom the reporting unit is their permanent duty
station, regardless of whether that unit prepares their paycheck. The
survey does not include the self-employed, owners and partners in
unincorporated firms, household workers, or unpaid family workers.
Wages for the OES survey are straight-time, gross pay, exclusive
of premium pay. Base rate; cost-of-living allowances; guaranteed pay;
hazardous-duty pay; incentive pay, including commissions and production
bonuses; and tips are included. Excluded are overtime pay, severance pay,
shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses, employer cost for
supplementary benefits, and tuition reimbursements.
OES receives wage rate data for the federal government, the U.S. Postal
Service, and most state governments. For the remaining establishments, the
OES survey data are placed into 12 intervals. The intervals are defined both as hourly rates
and the corresponding annual rates, where the annual rate for an
occupation is calculated by multiplying the hourly wage rate by a typical
work year of 2,080 hours. The responding establishments are instructed to
report the hourly rate for part-time workers, and to report annual rates
for occupations that are typically paid at an annual rate but do not work
2,080 hours per year, such as teachers, pilots, and flight attendants.
Other workers, such as some entertainment workers, are paid hourly rates,
but generally do not work 40 hours per week, year round. For these
workers, only an hourly wage is reported.
The OES survey is designed to produce estimates by combining six panels
of data collected over a 3-year period. Each OES panel includes
approximately 200,000 establishments. The full six-panel sample of nearly
1.2 million establishments allows the production of estimates at detailed
levels of geography, industry, and occupation.
Wage updating. Significant reductions in sampling errors are
obtained by combining six panels of data, particularly for small
geographic areas and occupations. Wages for the current panel need no
adjustment. However, wages in the five previous panels need to be updated
to the current panel's reference period.
The OES program uses the BLS Employment Cost Index (ECI) to adjust
survey data from prior panels before combining them with the current
panel's data. The wage updating procedure adjusts each detailed
occupation's wage rate, as measured in the earlier panel, according to the
average movement of its broader occupational division.
Imputation. Some establishments do not respond
for a given panel. For most employers, a "nearest neighbor" hot deck
imputation procedure is used to impute missing occupational employment
totals. A variant of mean imputation is used to impute missing wage
distributions. In some cases, data for current panel nonrespondents are
available from earlier panels. In those cases, the older data may be used
and aged to represent the current reference period.
Weighting and benchmarking. The sampled establishments are
weighted to represent all establishments for the reference period. Weights
are further adjusted by the ratio of employment totals (the average of
November 2015 and May 2016 employment) from the BLS Quarterly Census of
Employment and Wages to employment totals from the OES survey.
Special Procedures for the May 2016 estimates
In May 2013, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program, from
which the OES sample is drawn, began coding some establishments that were
historically found in private households (NAICS 814110) to services for the
elderly and persons with disabilities (NAICS 624120). Private households
are out of scope for OES, so this shift caused a scope increase for OES in
NAICS 624120. Because this scope increase affected only the five most recent
of the six survey panels used to produce the May 2016 OES estimates, the
units that shifted industries were removed from the survey data and not used in estimation.
For more information
Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available
Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in the
Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/methods_statement.pdf.
May 2016 National Occupational Employment and
May 2016 State Occupational Employment and Wage
May 2016 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area
Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates
May 2016 National Industry-Specific Occupational
Employment and Wage Estimates
May 2016 Occupation Profiles
Last Modified Date: March 31, 2017