News Release Information
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Occupational Employment and Wages in Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton – May 2017
Workers in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $18.88 in May 2017, about 22 percent below the nationwide average of $24.34, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, 21 groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including legal; computer and mathematical; and construction and extraction.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 5 of the 22 occupational groups, including production; transportation and material moving; and healthcare support. Conversely, 14 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations; office and administrative support; and computer and mathematical. (See table A and box note at end of release.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Hickory||United States||Hickory||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
Education, training, 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
One occupational group—production—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton had 31,630 jobs in production occupations, accounting for 20.6 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.3-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $16.53, significantly below the national wage of $18.30.
Some of the larger detailed occupations within the production group included assemblers and fabricators, all other, including team assemblers (4,110), upholsterers (3,670), and sewing machine operators (2,260). Among the higher paying jobs in this group were power plant operators and first-line supervisors of production and operating workers, with mean hourly wages of $40.51 and $26.23, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were laundry and dry-cleaning workers ($10.84) and adhesive bonding machine operators and tenders ($12.13). (Detailed data for production occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available, go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_25860.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 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the production group. For instance, upholsterers were employed at 104.6 times the national rate in Hickory, and hand cutters and trimmers, at 65.4 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, machinists had a location quotient of 1.2 in Hickory, 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 North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Notes 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 www.bls.gov/oes/changes_2017.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.
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. 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 www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm.
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 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,695 establishments with a response rate of 87 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tec.htm.
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 www.bls.gov/soc and information about the 2017 NAICS is available at www.bls.gov/bls/naics.htm.
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 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties in North Carolina.
OES data are available on our regional web page at www.bls.gov/regions/southeast. Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm. Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/oes/current/methods_statement.pdf.
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.
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual (4)|
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers
Structural metal fabricators and fitters
Assemblers and fabricators, all other, including team assemblers
Butchers and meat cutters
Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic
Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers, metal and plastic
Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Lathe and turning machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Milling and planing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Tool and die makers
Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers
Heat treating equipment setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Prepress technicians and workers
Printing press operators
Print binding and finishing workers
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers
Sewing machine operators
Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders
Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders
Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders
Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders
Extruding and forming machine setters, operators, and tenders, synthetic and glass fibers
Fabric and apparel patternmakers
Textile, apparel, and furnishings workers, all other
Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters
Model makers, wood
Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood
Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing
Power plant operators
Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators
Chemical equipment operators and tenders
Separating, filtering, clarifying, precipitating, and still machine setters, operators, and tenders
Grinding and polishing workers, hand
Mixing and blending machine setters, operators, and tenders
Cutters and trimmers, hand
Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders
Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders
Furnace, kiln, oven, drier, and kettle operators and tenders
Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers
Dental laboratory technicians
Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders
Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders
Painters, transportation equipment
Painting, coating, and decorating workers
Photographic process workers and processing machine operators
Adhesive bonding machine operators and tenders
Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders
Production workers, all other
Last Modified Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018