An official website of the United States government
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Workers in the Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $23.70 in May 2021, about 15 percent below the nationwide average of $28.01, 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 21 of the 22 major occupational groups.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, Knoxville area employment was more highly concentrated in 9 of the 22 occupational groups, including office and administrative support, production, and food preparation and serving related. Eleven groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, computer and mathematical, and educational instruction and library. (See table A.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Knoxville||United States||Knoxville||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—office and administrative support—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Knoxville had 56,860 jobs in office and administrative support, accounting for 14.8 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 13.0-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $18.69, significantly below the national wage of $20.88.
Some of the larger detailed occupations within the office and administrative support group included customer service representatives (9,430), general office clerks (7,530), and first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers (6,510). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants and first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, with mean hourly wages of $28.43 and $27.74, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks ($11.46). (Detailed data for the office and administrative support occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available, go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_28940.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 Knoxville area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the office and administrative support group. For instance, insurance claims and policy processing clerks were employed at 1.7 times the national rate in Knoxville, and file clerks, at 1.6 times the U.S. average. Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks had a location quotient of 1.0 in Knoxville, 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 Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
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 Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,877 establishments with a response rate of 63 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 Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Anderson County, Blount County, Campbell County, Grainger County, Knox County, Loudon County, Morgan County, Roane County, and Union County.
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; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual (4)|
Office and administrative support occupations
First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers
Switchboard operators, including answering service
Bill and account collectors
Billing and posting clerks
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
Payroll and timekeeping clerks
Financial clerks, all other
Court, municipal, and license clerks
Credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks
Customer service representatives
Eligibility interviewers, government programs
Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks
Interviewers, except eligibility and loan
Library assistants, clerical
Loan interviewers and clerks
New accounts clerks
Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping
Receptionists and information clerks
Information and record clerks, all other
Cargo and freight agents
Couriers and messengers
Public safety telecommunicators
Dispatchers, except police, fire, and ambulance
Meter readers, utilities
Postal service clerks
Postal service mail carriers
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators
Production, planning, and expediting clerks
Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks
Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping
Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants
Legal secretaries and administrative assistants
Medical secretaries and administrative assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive
Data entry keyers
Word processors and typists
Insurance claims and policy processing clerks
Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service
Office clerks, general
Office machine operators, except computer
Office and administrative support workers, all other
Last Modified Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2022