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News Release Information

Wednesday, May 06, 2020


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Charleston-North Charleston — May 2019

Workers in the Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $22.98 in May 2019, about 11 percent below the nationwide average of $25.72, 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 higher than their respective national averages in 2 of the 22 major occupational groups, including production. Nineteen groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including legal; arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media; and construction and extraction.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 8 of the 22 occupational groups, including food preparation and serving related, healthcare practitioners and technical, and sales and related. Nine groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including educational instruction and library, healthcare support, and management. (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-North Charleston, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2019 
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Charleston United States Charleston Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $25.72 $22.98* -11


5.5 4.3* 58.88 54.76* -7

Business and financial operations

5.6 5.1* 37.56 32.91* -12

Computer and mathematical

3.1 3.1 45.08 39.16* -13

Architecture and engineering

1.8 2.2* 42.69 39.35* -8

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 0.5* 37.28 33.09* -11

Community and social service

1.5 1.0* 24.27 22.22* -8


0.8 0.8 52.71 38.93* -26

Educational instruction and library

6.1 4.1* 27.75 24.16* -13

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.4 1.0* 29.79 24.16* -19

Healthcare practitioners and technical

5.9 7.2* 40.21 36.98* -8

Healthcare support

4.4 3.1* 14.91 15.01 1

Protective service

2.4 2.1* 23.98 20.58* -14

Food preparation and serving related

9.2 11.2* 12.82 11.68* -9

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.0 3.5* 15.03 12.99* -14

Personal care and service

2.2 2.6* 15.03 14.02* -7

Sales and related

9.8 10.7* 20.70 18.27* -12

Office and administrative support

13.3 13.2 19.73 18.54* -6

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 15.07 18.15* 20

Construction and extraction

4.2 4.6* 25.28 21.69* -14

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.4* 24.10 22.79* -5


6.2 6.0 19.30 20.82* 8

Transportation and material moving

8.5 8.9 18.23 16.75* -8

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
* The mean hourly wage or percent share of employment for this area is significantly different from the national average of all areas at the 90-percent confidence leve

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. Charleston had 40,320 jobs in food preparation and serving related occupations, accounting for 11.2 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 9.2-percent share nationally. The local average hourly wage for this occupational group was $11.68, significantly lower than the national wage of $12.82.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the food preparation and serving related group included fast food and counter workers (12,650), waiters and waitresses (7,320), and restaurant cooks (5,100). Among the higher paying jobs were chefs and head cooks, and first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers, with mean hourly wages of $19.78 and $18.52, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop hosts and hostesses ($9.33) and waiters and waitresses ($9.34). (Detailed data for food preparation and serving related occupations 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 than it does nationally. In the Charleston area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the food preparation and serving related group. For instance, chefs and head cooks were employed at 2.9 times the national rate in Charleston, and restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop hosts and hostesses, at 2.1 times the U.S. average. Bartenders had a location quotient of 1.1 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, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

Changes to the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Data

With the May 2019 estimates, the OES program has begun implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Each set of OES estimates is calculated from six panels of survey data collected over three years. Because the May 2019 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. These combinations may include occupations from more than one 2018 SOC minor group or broad occupation. Therefore, OES will not publish data for some 2018 SOC minor groups and broad occupations in the May 2019 estimates. The May 2021 estimates, to be published in Spring 2022, will be the first OES estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC. 

In addition, the OES program has replaced some 2018 SOC detailed occupations with SOC broad occupations or OES-specific aggregations. These include home health aides and personal care aides, for which OES will publish only the 2018 SOC broad occupation 31-1120 Home Health and Personal Care Aides.

For more information on the occupational classification system used in the May 2019 OES estimates, please see and

The May 2019 OES estimates use the metropolitan area definitions delineated in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin 17-01, which add a new Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for Twin Falls, Idaho. For more information on the area definitions used in the May 2019 estimates, please see

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 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. OES data are available at

The OES 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. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 180,000 to 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 2019 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, November 2017, May 2017, and November 2016. The unweighted sampled employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 57 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 71 percent based on establishments and 68 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,681 establishments with a response rate of 64 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

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 May 2019 OES estimates are the first set of OES estimates to be based in part on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC. These estimates use a hybrid of the 2010 and 2018 SOC systems. More information on the hybrid classification system is available at

The May 2019 OES estimates are based on the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). More 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-North Charleston, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties.

For more information

Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at Detailed information about the OES program is available 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 for food preparation and serving related occupations, Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2019 
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Food preparation and serving related occupations

40,320 1.2 $11.68 $24,290

Chefs and head cooks

900 2.9 19.78 41,140

First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers

3,470 1.4 18.52 38,530

Cooks, fast food

840 0.7 10.51 21,850

Cooks, institution and cafeteria

1,310 1.3 11.65 24,240

Cooks, restaurant

5,100 1.5 13.07 27,180

Cooks, short order

(5) (5) 12.05 25,050

Food preparation workers

1,540 0.7 13.59 28,260


1,790 1.1 12.00 24,970

Fast food and counter workers

12,650 1.3 10.42 21,680

Waiters and waitresses

7,320 1.2 9.34 19,420

Food servers, nonrestaurant

760 1.1 12.06 25,090

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers

960 0.8 10.36 21,540


1,150 0.9 10.46 21,750

Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop

2,210 2.1 9.33 19,400

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Charleston-North Charleston, SC 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: Wednesday, May 06, 2020