Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Workers in the Great Falls, MT Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $21.98 in May 2021, 22 percent below the nationwide average of $28.01, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Michael Hirniak noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in 20 of the 22 major occupational groups, including computer and mathematical; legal; and arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, Great Falls area employment was more highly concentrated in 10 of the 22 occupational groups, including food preparation and serving related, healthcare practitioners and technical, and sales and related. Eight groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including production, management, and computer and mathematical. (See table A.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Great Falls||United States||Great Falls||Percent difference (1)|
Total, all occupations
Business and financial operations
Computer and mathematical
Architecture and engineering
Life, physical, and social science
Community and social service
Educational instruction and library
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media
Healthcare practitioners and technical
Food preparation and serving related
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance
Personal care and service
Sales and related
Office and administrative support
Farming, fishing, and forestry
Construction and extraction
Installation, maintenance, and repair
Transportation and material moving
(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Great Falls, MT Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
One occupational group—food preparation and serving related—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Great Falls had 3,570 jobs in food preparation and serving related, accounting for 10.4 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 8.0-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $11.91, significantly below the national wage of $14.16.
Some of the larger detailed occupations within the food preparation and serving related group included fast food and counter workers (1,120), restaurant cooks (440), and bartenders (400). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers and institution and cafeteria cooks, with mean hourly wages of $16.56 and $13.94, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were waiters and waitresses ($9.95) and bartenders ($10.38). (Detailed data for the food preparation and serving related occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_24500.htm.)
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 than it does nationally. In the Great Falls area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the food preparation and serving related group. For instance, bartenders were employed at 3.4 times the national rate in Great Falls, and institution and cafeteria cooks at 2.2 times the U.S. average. Fast food cooks had a location quotient of 1.0 in Great Falls, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.
These statistics are from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
With the May 2021 estimates release, the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program has implemented a new model-based (MB3) estimation method. For more information, see the May 2021 Survey Methods and Reliability Statement at www.bls.gov/oes/methods_21.pdf and the Monthly Labor Review article at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/article/model-based-estimates-for-the-occupational-employment-statistics-program.htm. OEWS estimates for the years 2015-19 were recalculated using the new estimation method and are available as research estimates at www.bls.gov/oes/oes-mb3-methods.htm.
The May 2021 OEWS estimates are also the first estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. To improve data quality, the OEWS program aggregates some occupations to the SOC broad occupation level or as OEWS-specific combinations of 2018 SOC detailed occupations.
The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey is a semiannual survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OEWS data available from BLS include cross-industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation; over 580 areas, including states and the District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-digit, most 4-digit, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels, and national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals. OEWS data are available at www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm.
The OEWS survey is a cooperative effort between BLS and the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS funds the survey and provides the procedures and technical support, while the State Workforce Agencies collect most of the data. OEWS estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 179,000 to 187,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by Internet or other electronic means, mail, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2021 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2021, November 2020, May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, and November 2018. The unweighted sampled employment of 82 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 62 percent of total national employment. The overall national response rate for the six panels, based on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is 67.2 percent based on establishments and 64.5 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Great Falls, MT Metropolitan Statistical Area included 724 establishments with a response rate of 77 percent. For more information about OEWS concepts and methodology, go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tec.htm.
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.
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 Great Falls, MT Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Cascade County.
For more information
Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual (4)|
Food preparation and serving related occupations
First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers
Cooks, fast food
Cooks, institution and cafeteria
Food preparation workers
Fast food and counter workers
Waiters and waitresses
Food servers, nonrestaurant
Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers
Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop
(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Great Falls, MT Metropolitan Statistical Area, see www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_24500.htm.
Last Modified Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2022