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News Release Information

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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Occupational Employment and Wages in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News–May 2014

Workers in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $21.40 in May 2014, 6 percent below the nationwide average of $22.71, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were significantly lower than their respective national averages in 14 of the 22 major occupational groups, including legal; arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media; and sales and related. Only three groups had hourly wages that were significantly higher than their respective national averages, including production and transportation and material moving. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

One occupational group—architecture and engineering—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Virginia Beach had 21,440 jobs in architecture and engineering, accounting for 2.9 percent of local area employment, significantly larger than the 1.8-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $37.32, significantly less than the national wage of $39.19.

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2014
Major occupational group Employment share (percent of total) Average (mean) hourly wage
United States Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Significant difference (1) United States Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Significant difference (1) Percent difference (2)

Total, all occupations

100.0% 100.0%   $22.71 $21.40 Yes -6


5.0 3.7 Yes 54.08 53.02 Yes -2

Business and financial operations

5.1 5.6 Yes 34.81 33.14 Yes -5

Computer and mathematical

2.8 3.0 No 40.37 37.17 Yes -8

Architecture and engineering

1.8 2.9 Yes 39.19 37.32 Yes -5

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.7 No 33.69 33.96 No 1

Community and social service

1.4 1.5 No 21.79 21.13 No -3


0.8 0.6 Yes 48.61 38.70 Yes -20

Education, training, and library

6.2 6.4 No 25.10 24.14 No -4

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.0 Yes 26.82 22.10 Yes -18

Healthcare practitioners and technical

5.8 5.9 No 36.54 33.88 Yes -7

Healthcare support

2.9 2.8 No 13.86 12.94 Yes -7

Protective service

2.4 2.7 Yes 21.14 19.23 Yes -9

Food preparation and serving related

9.1 9.9 Yes 10.57 10.77 No 2

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.2 3.4 Yes 12.68 11.36 Yes -10

Personal care and service

3.1 3.2 No 12.01 11.32 Yes -6

Sales and related

10.5 10.9 No 18.59 15.80 Yes -15

Office and administrative support

16.0 15.4 Yes 17.08 16.32 Yes -4

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1 Yes 12.09 13.51 Yes 12

Construction and extraction

3.9 4.9 Yes 22.40 19.76 Yes -12

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.4 Yes 21.74 21.80 No 0


6.6 5.0 Yes 17.06 18.47 Yes 8

Transportation and material moving

6.8 6.2 Yes 16.57 17.21 Yes 4

(1) Statistical significance testing at the 90-percent confidence level.
(2) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News is above the national mean wage, while a negative percent difference reflects a lower wage.

With employment of 2,030, all other engineering technicians, except drafters was the largest occupation within the architecture and engineering group, followed by mechincial engineers with 1,780 jobs. Among the higher-paying jobs were aerospace engineers and computer hardware engineers, with mean hourly wages of $56.12 and $53.82, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were surveying and mapping technicians ($18.68) and civil engineering technicians ($23.90). (Detailed occupational data for architecture and engineering are presented in table 1 ; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to

Location quotients allow us to explore the occupational make-up of a metropolitan area by comparing the composition of jobs in an area relative to the national average. (See table 1 .) For example, a location quotient of 2.0 indicates that an occupation accounts for twice the share of employment in the area as it does nationally. In the Virginia Beach area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in several of the occupations within the architecture and engineering group. For instance, marine engineers and naval architects were employed at more than 19 times the national rate in Virginia Beach, and nuclear engineers at almost 18 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, civil engineers had a location quotient of 1.2 in Virginia Beach, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.

These statistics are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Virginia Employment Commission and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.


OES wage and employment data for the 22 major occupational groups in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area were compared to their respective national averages based on statistical significance testing. Only those occupations with wages or employment shares above or below the national wage or share after testing for significance at the 90-percent confidence level meet the criteria.

NOTE: A value that is statistically different from another does not necessarily mean that the difference has economic or practical significance. Statistical significance is concerned with the ability to make confident statements about a universe based on a sample. It is entirely possible that a large difference between two values is not significantly different statistically, while a small difference is, since both the size and heterogeneity of the sample affect the relative error of the data being tested.

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual mail survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are also surveyed, but their data are not included in the national estimates. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Each year, forms are mailed to two semiannual panels of approximately 200,000 sampled establishments, one panel in May and the other in November. May 2014 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2014, November 2013, May 2013, November 2012, May 2012, and November 2011. The overall national response rate for the six panels is 74.3 percent based on establishments and 70.5 percent based on employment. The sample in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area included 4,491 establishments with a response rate of 70 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

The OES survey provides estimates of employment and hourly and annual wages for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and 821 detailed occupations for the nation, states, metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan divisions, and nonmetropolitan areas. In addition, employment and wage estimates for 94 minor groups and 458 broad occupations are available in the national data. OES data by state and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan area are available from and, respectively.

The May 2014 OES estimates are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at and information about the 2012 NAICS is available at

Area definitions

The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

The Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, Surry, and York Counties and Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg cities in Virginia and Currituck County in North Carolina.

Additional information

OES data are available on our regional web page at Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request – Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339.

Table 1. Employment and wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey, by occupation, Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2014
Occupation (1) Employment (2) Mean wage
Level Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Architecture and engineering occupations

21,440 1.6 $37.32 $77,630

Architects, except landscape and naval

450 1.0 37.05 77,060

Landscape architects

110 1.2 31.16 64,820

Cartographers and photogrammetrists

50 0.7 29.86 62,100


270 1.2 32.54 67,690

Aerospace engineers

930 2.5 56.12 116,720

Biomedical engineers

120 1.1 (5) (5)

Chemical engineers

40 0.2 43.90 91,320

Civil engineers

1,680 1.2 37.82 78,670

Computer hardware engineers

230 0.6 53.82 111,940

Electrical engineers

1,560 1.7 39.15 81,440

Electronics engineers, except computer

1,010 1.4 43.53 90,530

Environmental engineers

430 1.5 41.02 85,310

Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

130 1.0 37.80 78,620

Industrial engineers

920 0.7 41.54 86,400

Marine engineers and naval architects

800 19.5 44.67 92,910

Materials engineers

90 0.7 51.95 108,060

Mechanical engineers

1,780 1.2 41.08 85,440

Nuclear engineers

1,600 17.9 38.73 80,550

Engineers, all other

1,300 1.9 46.91 97,570

Architectural and civil drafters

270 0.6 24.40 50,740

Electrical and electronics drafters

140 0.9 26.24 54,580

Drafters, all other

(5) (5) 26.84 55,830

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

(5) (5) 33.97 70,650

Civil engineering technicians

450 1.2 23.90 49,720

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians

1,770 2.4 30.57 63,590

Electro-mechanical technicians

220 2.8 26.57 55,260

Environmental engineering technicians

(5) (5) 19.14 39,810

Industrial engineering technicians

290 0.8 27.52 57,240

Mechanical engineering technicians

320 1.3 27.28 56,750

Engineering technicians, except drafters, all other

2,030 5.6 35.13 73,060

Surveying and mapping technicians

430 1.6 18.68 38,860

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News MSA, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations do not sum to the totals because the totals include occupations not shown separately. Estimates do not include self-employed workers.
(3) The location quotient is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average, and a location quotient less than one indicates the occupation is less prevalent in the area than average.
(4) Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a ‘year-round, full-time’ hours figure of 2,080 hours; for those occupations where there is not an hourly mean wage published, the annual wage has been directly calculated from the reported survey data.
(5) Estimates not released.


Last Modified Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2015