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Tuesday, May 15, 2018


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Chattanooga – May 2017

Workers in the Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $20.61 in May 2017, about 15 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, 19 groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including life, physical, and social science; management; and healthcare practitioners and technical.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including production; transportation and material moving; and office and administrative support. Conversely, 11 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including construction and extraction; business and financial operations; and personal care and service. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2017
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Chattanooga United States Chattanooga Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $24.34 $20.61* -15


5.1 5.6* 57.65 45.67* -21

Business and financial operations

5.2 4.2* 36.70 30.09* -18

Computer and mathematical

3.0 2.1* 43.18 36.77* -15

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.6* 41.44 38.13 -8

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.4* 35.76 26.47* -26

Community and social service

1.5 1.0* 23.10 20.26* -12


0.8 0.5* 51.62 (2) -

Education, training, and library

6.1 4.7 26.67 23.23* -13

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.4 1.0* 28.34 22.65* -20

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.0 6.7* 38.83 32.12* -17

Healthcare support

2.9 2.9 15.05 13.99* -7

Protective service

2.4 2.0* 22.69 17.69* -22

Food preparation and serving related

9.3 9.6 11.88 10.07* -15

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.1 3.2 13.91 11.65* -16

Personal care and service

3.6 2.6* 13.11 11.46* -13

Sales and related

10.2 10.4 19.56 17.43* -11

Office and administrative support

15.4 16.1* 18.24 16.36* -10

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.3* 13.87 14.03 1

Construction and extraction

4.0 2.8* 24.01 20.11* -16

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.3* 23.02 21.94* -5


6.3 9.4* 18.30 16.69* -9

Transportation and material moving

7.0 8.5* 17.82 16.10* -10

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
(2) Estimate not released
* The percent share of employment or mean hourly wage for this area is significantly different from the national average of all areas at the 90-percent confidence level.
- Data not available.

One occupational group—production—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Chattanooga had 22,750 jobs in production occupations, accounting for 9.4 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.3-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $16.69, 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 (4,790), welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers (1,770), and first-line supervisors of production and operating workers (1,410). 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 $35.09 and $26.60, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were pressers, textile, garment, and related materials ($9.82) and laundry and dry-cleaning workers ($9.88). (Detailed data for production 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 Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in several of the occupations within the production group. For instance, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers were employed at 2.8 times the national rate in Chattanooga, and meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers, at 2.3 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, tool and die makers had a location quotient of 1.0 in Chattanooga, 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 Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

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

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.

Technical Note

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

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 Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,657 establishments with a response rate of 72 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

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 and 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 Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Catoosa, Dade, and Walker Counties in Georgia; Hamilton, Marion, and Sequatchie Counties in Tennessee.

Additional information

OES data are available on our regional web page at Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website 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 from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey, by occupation, Chattanooga Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2017
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Production occupations

22,750 1.5 $16.69 $34,720

First-line supervisors of production and operating workers

1,410 1.4 26.60 55,320

Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers

160 0.4 15.64 32,520

Structural metal fabricators and fitters

520 4.0 15.07 31,330

Assemblers and fabricators, all other, including team assemblers

4,790 2.2 15.50 32,240


430 1.4 11.00 22,890

Butchers and meat cutters

170 0.7 13.49 28,060

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers

600 2.3 10.58 22,000

Food batchmakers

350 1.4 14.63 30,430

Food processing workers, all other

290 4.0 11.38 23,680

Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic

200 0.8 19.90 41,380

Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

150 1.2 13.58 28,250

Forging machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

40 1.1 15.55 32,340

Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

480 1.5 15.67 32,580

Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

(5) (5) 18.12 37,680


400 0.6 22.46 46,710

Model makers, metal and plastic

40 4.0 24.76 51,490

Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

390 1.5 15.65 32,540

Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

260 1.3 16.98 35,310

Tool and die makers

120 1.0 22.20 46,180

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

1,770 2.8 20.89 43,460

Layout workers, metal and plastic

30 2.2 22.70 47,230

Metal workers and plastic workers, all other

60 1.5 19.68 40,930

Prepress technicians and workers

80 1.6 16.07 33,420

Printing press operators

810 2.8 14.47 30,100

Print binding and finishing workers

240 2.9 16.60 34,520

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

440 1.2 9.88 20,560

Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials

50 0.7 9.82 20,420

Sewing machine operators

210 0.9 11.47 23,850

Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders

100 6.1 14.29 29,730

Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders

90 3.7 14.45 30,060

Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders

(5) (5) 14.24 29,620

Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders

910 17.3 13.36 27,800

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters

100 0.6 14.88 30,950

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing

190 1.4 15.68 32,620

Power plant operators

80 1.4 35.09 72,990

Stationary engineers and boiler operators

(5) (5) 24.22 50,390

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

170 0.9 19.42 40,390

Chemical equipment operators and tenders

140 1.0 22.22 46,210

Separating, filtering, clarifying, precipitating, and still machine setters, operators, and tenders

(5) (5) 20.10 41,810

Crushing, grinding, and polishing machine setters, operators, and tenders

40 0.8 15.53 32,290

Mixing and blending machine setters, operators, and tenders

200 0.9 15.66 32,570

Cutters and trimmers, hand

(5) (5) 13.69 28,480

Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders

80 0.7 13.06 27,170

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

1,070 1.2 17.32 36,030

Dental laboratory technicians

90 1.5 21.40 44,500

Ophthalmic laboratory technicians

(5) (5) 13.94 28,990

Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders

440 0.7 14.38 29,910

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders

210 1.5 18.10 37,650

Painters, transportation equipment

40 0.4 22.79 47,410

Photographic process workers and processing machine operators

630 16.7 13.19 27,440

Molders, shapers, and casters, except metal and plastic

140 2.0 13.99 29,100

Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders

60 0.4 12.77 26,560

Helpers--production workers

910 1.3 13.19 27,440

Production workers, all other

340 0.8 17.05 35,450

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Chattanooga 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: Tuesday, May 15, 2018