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News Release Information

Friday, June 30, 2023

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  • (404) 893-4220

Occupational Employment and Wages in Columbia — May 2022

Workers in the Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $24.47 in May 2022, 18 percent below the nationwide average of $29.76, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Victoria G. Lee 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, Columbia area employment was more highly concentrated in 8 of the 22 occupational groups, including office and administrative support, protective service, and sales and related. Ten groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, construction and extraction, and management. (See table A.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Columbia metropolitan area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2022
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage ($)
United States Columbia United States Columbia Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 29.76 24.47* -18


6.7 5.7* 63.08 52.03* -18

Business and financial operations

6.5 5.4* 41.39 33.70* -19

Computer and mathematical

3.4 2.6* 51.99 40.00* -23

Architecture and engineering

1.7 1.2* 45.52 36.75* -19

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 0.8* 40.21 31.30* -22

Community and social service

1.6 1.6 26.81 22.60* -16


0.8 1.2* 59.87 39.93* -33

Educational instruction and library

5.7 5.6 30.41 27.01* -11

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.4 0.9* 36.78 24.76* -33

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.1 6.6* 46.52 41.03* -12

Healthcare support

4.6 3.8* 17.10 15.51* -9

Protective service

2.3 2.9* 25.97 19.12* -26

Food preparation and serving related

8.5 8.5 15.45 12.36* -20

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

2.9 2.8* 17.26 14.70* -15

Personal care and service

1.9 1.9 17.41 14.56* -16

Sales and related

8.9 9.5* 24.22 20.17* -17

Office and administrative support

12.6 15.6* 21.90 19.72* -10

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 18.21 18.21 0

Construction and extraction

4.1 3.1* 28.08 22.30* -21

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.3* 26.77 24.29* -9


5.9 6.4* 21.81 20.68* -5

Transportation and material moving

9.2 9.3* 21.12 18.02* -15

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Columbia, 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 is significantly different from the national average of all areas at the 90-percent confidence level.

One occupational group—office and administrative support—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Columbia had 58,730 jobs in office and administrative support, accounting for 15.6 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 12.6-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $19.72, significantly below the national wage of $21.90.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the office and administrative support group included customer service representatives (11,660), secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive (7,630), and general office clerks (7,350). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers and executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants, with mean hourly wages of $30.75 and $26.18, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks ($12.32) and couriers and messengers ($13.48). (Detailed data for the office and administrative support 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 Columbia 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 3.2 times the national rate in Columbia, and bill and account collectors, at 2.5 times the U.S. average. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks had a location quotient of 1.0 in Columbia, 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 South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

Changes to the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Data

The May 2022 OEWS estimates use the model-based (MB3) estimation method implemented with the May 2021 estimates release. Additional updates were made to the MB3 wage processing methodology for May 2022. For more information, see the May 2022 Survey Methods and Reliability Statement.

The May 2022 estimates are the first OEWS estimates to be produced using the 2022 NAICS, which replaces the 2017 NAICS used for the May 2017-May 2021 estimates. See North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) at BLS for details.

Technical Note

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

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 2022 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2022, November 2021, May 2021, November 2020, May 2020, and November 2019. The unweighted sampled employment of 80 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 65.4 percent based on establishments and 62.5 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,768 establishments with a response rate of 68 percent. For more information about OEWS 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.

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 Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Calhoun County, Fairfield County, Kershaw County, Lexington County, Richland County, and Saluda County.

For more information

Answers to frequently asked questions about the OEWS data are available at Detailed information about the OEWS program is available at

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.

Table 1. Employment and wage data for office and administrative support occupations, Columbia metropolitan area, May 2022
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages ($)
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Office and administrative support occupations

58,730 1.2 19.72 41,020

First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers

6,340 1.7 30.75 63,970

Switchboard operators, including answering service

90 0.7 16.13 33,540

Bill and account collectors

1,290 2.5 17.64 36,680

Billing and posting clerks

1,110 1.0 19.55 40,670

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

3,560 0.9 19.63 40,830

Payroll and timekeeping clerks

210 0.5 22.22 46,210

Procurement clerks

390 2.4 19.78 41,140


1,080 1.2 17.18 35,730

Court, municipal, and license clerks

260 0.7 20.96 43,600

Customer service representatives

11,660 1.6 17.29 35,970

Eligibility interviewers, government programs

240 0.6 20.32 42,270

File clerks

250 1.1 17.02 35,410

Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks

620 1.0 12.32 25,620

Interviewers, except eligibility and loan

380 0.9 17.04 35,450

Library assistants, clerical

290 1.5 14.08 29,290

Loan interviewers and clerks

410 0.7 19.22 39,980

New accounts clerks

30 0.3 22.71 47,240

Order clerks

160 0.5 17.42 36,240

Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

420 1.6 20.05 41,700

Receptionists and information clerks

2,420 0.9 14.63 30,430

Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks

80 0.3 20.07 41,740

Information and record clerks, all other

440 1.2 22.31 46,400

Cargo and freight agents

170 0.7 20.18 41,970

Couriers and messengers

230 1.2 13.48 28,030

Public safety telecommunicators

160 0.7 17.82 37,070

Dispatchers, except police, fire, and ambulance

440 0.8 19.99 41,580

Meter readers, utilities

70 1.3 18.88 39,280

Postal service clerks

130 0.7 27.34 56,880

Postal service mail carriers

890 1.1 25.68 53,420

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators

520 1.7 25.09 52,180

Production, planning, and expediting clerks

890 0.9 23.83 49,560

Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks

2,050 1.0 17.44 36,280

Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping

100 0.8 18.74 38,980

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants

2,010 1.7 26.18 54,450

Medical secretaries and administrative assistants

1,330 0.8 18.25 37,950

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive

7,630 1.7 18.64 38,770

Data entry keyers

440 1.1 15.05 31,310

Insurance claims and policy processing clerks

1,850 3.2 20.35 42,330

Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service

150 0.9 16.58 34,490

Office clerks, general

7,350 1.2 16.30 33,900

Office machine operators, except computer

40 0.5 15.84 32,960

Office and administrative support workers, all other

110 0.3 23.75 49,400

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations may not sum to the totals due to rounding, and because the totals may include occupations that are 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.


Last Modified Date: Friday, June 30, 2023