The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) implemented the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system with the release of reference year 2019 estimates for the Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS). The 2019 reference year estimates include data collected between September 2018 and August 2019 from one of five sample groups. The 2019 to 2022 reference year estimates are considered preliminary as data from each sample group will be added with previously collected data to produce the latest reference year estimates. Second wave estimates are considered final when the 2023 reference year estimates are published. These estimates will include data from the five sample groups collected as part of the second wave.
Coinciding with the 2018 SOC implementation and publication of second wave estimates, BLS made two key changes to the occupational detail published:
Began publication of estimates for 6-digit SOC codes.
The ORS is conducted under an Interagency Agreement with the Social Security Administration (SSA). First wave ORS estimates incorporated an additional level of detail for occupational classifications beyond the 6-digit SOC system mandated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), per a requirement from the SSA. The additional level of detail was based on 8-digit occupational classifications available in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) program administered by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). Out of 420 occupations and occupational groups published in the first wave estimates, 50 occupations were published at the 8-digit ONET-SOC level.
As part of the 2018 SOC implementation, BLS and SSA determined that publication of estimates for 6-digit SOC codes strikes the appropriate balance of government resources and data user needs. One of the factors that led to this determination is that with O*NET's transition from the 2010 SOC to the 2018 SOC, the number of O*NET-SOC 8-digit occupational classifications was reduced. The O*NET-SOC taxonomy based on the 2010 SOC breaks out 107 6-digit occupational classifications for a total of 270 8-digit occupational classifications. The O*NET-SOC taxonomy based on the 2018 SOC breaks out 76 6-digit occupational classifications for a total of 149 8-digit occupational classifications.
BLS expects to provide sufficient occupational detail on job requirements crucial to the SSA while delivering greater comparability with the Occupational Employment Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, and other federal statistics using the SOC system.