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News Release Information

Friday, May 18, 2018

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Occupational Employment and Wages in Charleston – May 2017

Workers in the Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $20.96 in May 2017, 14 percent below the nationwide average of $24.34, 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 18 of the 22 major occupational groups, including computer and mathematical, management, and protective service.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 9 of the 22 occupational groups including office and administrative support; healthcare practitioners and technical; and installation, maintenance, and repair. Conversely, 11 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation; these groups included production; food preparation and serving related; and education, training, and library. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2017
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Charleston United States Charleston Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100 100 $24.34 $20.96 * -14


5.1 5.5 * 57.65 39.61 * -31

Business and financial operations

5.2 4.5 * 36.70 27.45 * -25

Computer and mathematical

3.0 2.4 * 43.18 29.09 * -33

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.5 * 41.44 34.07 * -18

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 1.2 * 35.76 27.34 * -24

Community and social service

1.5 2.0 * 23.10 19.44 * -16


0.8 1.7 * 51.62 35.15 * -32

Education, training, and library

6.1 4.3 * 26.67 21.26 * -20

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.4 1.1 * 28.34 25.76 -9

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.0 8.8 * 38.83 34.91 * -10

Healthcare support

2.9 2.7 15.05 13.16 * -13

Protective service

2.4 3.1 * 22.69 16.01 * -29

Food preparation and serving related

9.3 7.4 * 11.88 10.88 * -8

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.1 2.8 * 13.91 11.56 * -17

Personal care and service

3.6 3.4 * 13.11 10.96 * -16

Sales and related

10.2 9.1 * 19.56 15.81 * -19

Office and administrative support

15.4 18.5 * 18.24 16.22 * -11

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1 * 13.87 17.51 * 26

Construction and extraction

4.0 4.8 * 24.01 23.44 -2

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 5.2 * 23.02 20.54 * -11


6.3 3.5 * 18.30 20.65 * 13

Transportation and material moving

7.0 6.7 17.82 16.47 * -8

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.

*The percent share of employment or mean hourly wage for this area is significantly different from the national averag of all areas at the 90-percent confidence level.

One occupational group—construction and extraction—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Charleston had 5,280 jobs in the construction and extraction group, accounting for 4.8 percent of local area employment, significantly above the 4.0-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $23.44, close to the national average of $24.01.

With employment of 960, construction laborers was the largest detailed occupation within the construction and extraction group, followed by operating engineers and other construction equipment operators (890). Among the higher-paying jobs were first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers with a mean hourly wage of $33.80 and plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters with a wage of $28.81. At the lower end of the wage scale were highway maintenance workers ($13.56) and construction laborers ($17.32). (Detailed occupational data for construction and extraction 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 Charleston area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the construction and extraction group. For instance, operating engineers and other construction equipment operators were employed at 3.1 times the national rate in Charleston, and continuous mining machine operators at 14.0 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, electricians had a location quotient of 0.9 in Charleston, 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, WorkForce West Virginia.

Note on Occupational Employment Statistics Data

With the release of the May 2017 estimates, the OES program has replaced 21 detailed occupations found in the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) with 10 new aggregations of those occupations. In addition, selected 4- and 5-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industries previously published by OES will no longer be published separately. Some of the 4-digit NAICS industries that are no longer being published separately will instead be published as OES-specific industry aggregations. More information about the new occupational and industry aggregations is available at

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 survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OES data available from BLS include cross-industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation; over 650 areas, including states and the District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), metropolitan divisions, nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels, and national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals. OES data are available at

OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 200,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by mail, Internet or other electronic means, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2017 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2017, November 2016, May 2016, November 2015, May 2015, and November 2014. The overall national response rate for the six panels, based on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is 72 percent based on establishments and 68 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The unweighted sample employment of 82 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 58 percent of total national employment. The sample in the Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,432 establishments with a response rate of 69 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

The May 2017 OES estimates are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at and information about the 2017 NAICS is available at

Metropolitan 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 Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Boone, Clay, and Kanawha Counties in West Virginia.

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: (800) 877-8339.

Table 1. Employment and wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey, by occupation, Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2017
Occupation (1) Employment (2) Mean wage
Level Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Construction and extraction occupations

5,280 1.2 $23.44 $48,750

First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers

660 1.5 33.80 70,300


330 0.6 21.24 44,180

Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers

40 0.3 19.13 39,790

Construction Laborers

960 1.3 17.32 36,020

Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators

890 3.1 21.50 44,710


440 0.9 24.05 50,020

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

120 0.7 19.48 40,510

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

260 0.8 28.81 59,930


(5) (5) 24.80 51,580

Sheet Metal Workers

(5) (5) 17.36 36,110

Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

80 1.8 16.21 33,710

Construction and Building Inspectors

90 1.1 22.07 45,900

Elevator Installers and Repairers

80 4.3 28.02 58,270

Highway Maintenance Workers

130 1.1 13.56 28,210

Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining

80 2.6 24.91 51,820

Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas

50 3.4 17.17 35,720

Continuous Mining Machine Operators

130 14.0 27.85 57,920

Roof Bolters, Mining

(5) (5) 29.12 60,560

Roustabouts, Oil and Gas

80 2.2 22.40 46,600

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area, 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) Estimate not released.


Last Modified Date: Friday, May 18, 2018