Wage estimates by job characteristic:NCS and OES program data

Michael K. Lettau and Dee A. Zamora


Two statistical programs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, the Bureau)—the National Compensation Survey (NCS) program and the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program—collect information about the hourly wage rates of workers by occupation. In the past, the calculation of the wage estimates from these programs has been largely separate, even though the resulting estimates can appear to measure essentially the same thing for a similar group of workers. Therefore, this paper describes a procedure that combines data from the NCS and the OES to produce an experimental set of wage estimates by area, occupation, and job characteristic. The procedure is based on benchmarking the NCS sample weights to OES employment totals, thereby “harmonizing“ the two sets of wage estimates. It is then augmented with an imputation procedure to ensure that a wage estimate can be produced for every area and occupation group, even when the number of observations from the NCS survey is small.