July 2014

Agriculture: occupational employment and wages


Both the OES and GGS-OCC programs used the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system to categorize employees and their jobs into occupational groups. Since the SOC system released a revision during GGS-OCC panel collection, the GGS-OCC estimates were based on microdata collected with the use of both the 2000 SOC and the revised 2010 SOC systems. A hybrid occupational classification system was developed that combined data collected under two different systems. Most of the occupations in the hybrid classification system were matched to the 2010 SOC; however, if a match was not available, a temporary, hybrid occupational code was used.5

Scope of coverage

This study reviewed data collected under the short-term GGS-OCC program in which occupational employment and wage data were collected from agricultural establishments using the supplement to the OES survey. The OES program regularly produces employment and wage estimates annually for more than 800 occupations in nonfarm industries for the nation, states, and metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas and for specific North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) sectors, three-, four-, and selected five- and six-digit industries at the national level. However, because only about a third of the agricultural employment of the sector is in scope for the regular OES survey, the annual OES data for this sector are limited. The November 2011 supplement to the OES survey expanded the scope of coverage to approximately 85 percent of the agricultural sector employment. Employment numbers reflected in the data include part-time and full-time workers who are paid a wage or salary. As mentioned earlier, self-employed workers, owners and partners in unincorporated firms, household workers, or unpaid family workers were excluded from the survey. Seasonally adjusted 2011 data from the Current Population Survey at the BLS estimated approximately 40 percent of workers in the agricultural sector were either self-employed or worked for unincorporated firms.6 Because of the scope of survey coverage, these workers were excluded from this analysis. Additionally, of the 1.16 million jobs7 in the agricultural sector, this study excludes over 179,000 jobs in horses and other equine production (NAICS 11292); fishing, hunting, and trapping (NAICS 114); cotton ginning (NAICS 115111); and farm labor contractors and crew leaders (NAICS 115115). The first three industries excluded have between 6,000 and 8,300 employees each. The last excluded industry (farm labor contractors and crew leaders) accounts for over 157,000 jobs or 13 percent of agriculture employment.8 Data for this industry are not part of this analysis but are available from the OES survey.

This article discusses findings for the four agricultural subsectors that fall within the scope of coverage of the OES supplement: crop production, animal production and aquaculture, forestry and logging, and remaining industries within support activities for agriculture and forestry. For the purpose of this article, this extent of combined coverage of these four subsectors will be referred to as the agricultural sector.


5 This analysis is based on data collected using the 2000 and 2010 SOC systems. Whenever possible, the 2010 occupation was used in estimation. However, in several cases, occupations from the two structures had to be combined into a hybrid occupation. For more information, see Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Frequently Asked Questions, section F, “Other important information about OES data,” question 8, “How were the occupations in the May 2010 and May 2011 estimates created from data based on the 2000 and 2010 SOC codes?”

6 For more information, see “Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey,” (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mar. 21, 2014),

7 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program,

8 Ibid.

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About the Author

Stella D. Fayer

Stella D. Fayer is an economist in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Division of Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.