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Handbook of Methods Occupational Requirements Survey Data sources

Occupational Requirements Survey: Data sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) field economists are extensively trained and given detailed instructions on data collection techniques. They employ a variety of methods, including personal visits, mail, telephone, and email, to obtain data from Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) respondents. Field economists do not use paper or online questionnaires to collect these data; instead, they rely on a conversational interview and descriptive documents, such as task lists, to collect information on occupational requirements from respondents. Respondents are typically human resources managers or specialists, occupational safety managers, or supervisors. Field economists collect each sample over a 1-year period and perform the following activities:  

  • The field economist verifies that the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry code that identifies that the primary business activity of the establishment is correct.

  • Establishment respondents provide a list of employees or a list of job titles with employee counts to the economists. If the field economist is provided with a list of employees, jobs are selected using equal probability sampling to select a sampled job, where each employee on the list has an equal chance of selection. If the field economist is provided a list of job titles and employee counts, jobs are selected using probability proportional to size sampling, where the greater the number of employees associated with a job title, the more likely the job will be selected.

  • The field economist uses the tasks, knowledge required, controls and complexity, contacts, and environmental conditions of the job to determine the correct occupation code and work level for each sampled job based on the job description and type of work performed. (For more information on pay factors and work levels, see National Compensation Survey: Guide for Evaluating Your Firm’s Jobs and Pay). 

  • The field economist determines how many employees in the establishment can be defined by the occupational code for the sampled job.

  • The field economist examines whether workers in the sampled job work full- or part-time, are classified as union or nonunion workers, and whether they are paid on a time- or incentive-basis. 

  • The field economist collects data on the usual work schedule of each sampled job. The usual work schedule includes the daily and weekly hours and annual number of weeks workers in the sampled job are expected to perform.

  • The field economist collects data on job requirements that pertain to the sampled job’s physical demands; environmental conditions; education, training, and experience; and cognitive and mental requirements. Field economists refer to a list of tasks provided by respondents to understand the relationship between job demands and occupational data needed for collection. They only include in collection the critical tasks that support the job’s critical function.


All data collected in the ORS are subject to the BLS confidentiality requirements that prevent the disclosure of identifying information. Data collected from the ORS are used solely for statistical purposes. BLS has a strict confidentiality policy which ensures that the survey sample composition, lists of reporters, and names of respondents will be kept confidential. In addition, the policy assures respondents that published figures will not reveal the identity of any specific respondent and will not allow the data of any specific respondent to be identified. Each published estimate is screened to ensure that it meets these confidentiality requirements.


Last Modified Date: April 29, 2019