An official website of the United States government
Tuesday, July 06, 2021
Workers in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $20.98 in May 2020, about 22 percent below the nationwide average of $27.07, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in 19 of the 22 major occupational groups, including construction and extraction, healthcare support, and business and financial operations. Three group had wages that were not significantly different from their respective national averages.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, Hickory area employment was more highly concentrated in 3 of the 22 occupational groups: production; transportation and material moving; and installation, maintenance, and repair. Fifteen groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, office and administrative support, and management. (See table A.)
|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
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
One occupational group—production—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Hickory had 29,530 jobs in production occupations, accounting for 20.4 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.1-percent national share. The local average hourly wage for this occupational group was $17.82, significantly lower than the national average of $20.08.
Some of the larger detailed occupations within the production group included miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators (4,550), upholsterers (2,730), and sewing machine operators (2,320). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were computer numerically controlled tool programmers and first-line supervisors of production and operating workers, with mean hourly wages of $28.03 and $27.74, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were textile, garment, and related materials pressers ($11.28) and packaging and filling machine operators and tenders ($13.28). (Detailed data for the production occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations, 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 area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the production group. For instance, hand cutters and trimmers were employed at 100.9 times the national rate in Hickory, and upholsterers, at 100.3 times the U.S. average. Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers had a location quotient of 1.0 in Hickory, 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 North Carolina Department of Commerce.
The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program has changed its name to Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) to better reflect the range of data available from the program. Data released on or after March 31, 2021, will reflect the new program name. Webpages, publications, and other materials associated with previous data releases will retain the Occupational Employment Statistics name.Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics
Due to features of the OEWS methodology, the May 2020 OEWS estimates do not fully reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 2020 OEWS estimates are based on survey panels collected for May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, and November 2017. Because 5 of the 6 survey panels used to produce the estimates date from before the COVID-19 pandemic, only the most recent (May 2020) survey panel reflects changes in occupational proportions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The May 2020 OEWS employment estimates are benchmarked to the average of May 2020 and November 2019 employment from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Although the May 2020 QCEW data reflect the early employment effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the November 2019 QCEW employment data precede the pandemic, and therefore do not reflect its impact.
In addition, as a result of the pandemic, response rates for the November 2019 and May 2020 panels were lower in some areas. Lower response rates may negatively affect data availability and data quality.
More information is available at www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-occupational-employment-and-wage-statistics.htm.Implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System
With the May 2019 estimates, the OEWS program began implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Because the May 2019 and May 2020 estimates are based on a combination of survey data collected using the 2010 SOC and survey data collected using the 2018 SOC, these estimates use a hybrid of the two classification systems that contains some combinations of occupations that are not found in either the 2010 or 2018 SOC. This is the second and final year that the hybrid occupational structure will be used. The May 2021 estimates, to be published in Spring 2022, will be the first OEWS estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC.
For more information on the occupational classification system used in the May 2019 and May 2020 estimates, please see www.bls.gov/oes/soc_2018.htm and www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm#qf10.Upcoming Changes to the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Methodology
With the May 2021 estimates, to be released in Spring 2022, the OEWS program plans to begin using a new estimation methodology. The new model-based methodology, called MB3, has advantages over the existing methodology, as described in 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 2015-2018 were recalculated using the new estimation methodology and are available as research estimates at www.bls.gov/oes/oes-mb3-methods.htm.
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 180,000 to 185,000 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 2020 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, and November 2017. The unweighted sample employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 56 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 69 percent based on establishments and 66 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,597 establishments with a response rate of 79 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 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties.
For more information
Answers to frequently asked questions about the OEWS data are available at www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm. Detailed information about the OEWS program is available at www.bls.gov/oes/oes_doc.htm.
Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments 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
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators
Butchers and meat cutters
Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers
Food processing workers, all other
Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Forging 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
Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Multiple machine tool 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
Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials
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
Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood
Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing
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
Painting, coating, and decorating workers
Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders
Computer numerically controlled tool operators
Computer numerically controlled tool programmers
Adhesive bonding machine operators and tenders
Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders
Production workers, all other
Last Modified Date: Tuesday, July 06, 2021