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News Release Information

Thursday, July 18, 2019


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Columbia — May 2018

Workers in the Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $21.48 in May 2018, about 14 percent below the nationwide average of $24.98, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, 20 of the 22 major occupational groups had average wages in the local area that were significantly lower than their respective national averages, including legal; computer and mathematical; and business and financial operations.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including office and administrative support; protective service; and sales and related. Conversely, 10 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including personal care and service; management; and business and financial operations. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2018
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 $24.98 $21.48* -14


5.3 4.5* 58.44 51.99* -11

Business and financial operations

5.3 4.7* 36.98 30.59* -17

Computer and mathematical

3.0 2.9 44.01 34.33* -22

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.4* 42.01 35.95* -14

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.5* 36.62 30.48* -17

Community and social service

1.5 1.8* 23.69 20.66* -13


0.8 1.1* 52.25 37.68* -28

Education, training, and library

6.1 5.6* 27.22 23.09* -15

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.0* 28.74 24.24* -16

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.0 6.1 39.42 35.06* -11

Healthcare support

2.8 2.6* 15.57 13.73* -12

Protective service

2.4 3.5* 23.36 18.70* -20

Food preparation and serving related

9.2 9.0 12.30 10.17* -17

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.1 2.6* 14.43 12.73* -12

Personal care and service

3.8 3.0* 13.51 12.07* -11

Sales and related

10.0 10.7* 20.09 17.48* -13

Office and administrative support

15.1 16.6* 18.75 17.34* -8

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.2* 14.49 14.24 -2

Construction and extraction

4.1 3.9 24.62 20.37* -17

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.6* 23.54 22.14* -6


6.3 6.4 18.84 19.33 3

Transportation and material moving

7.1 7.3 18.41 15.58* -15

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Columbia 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 63,060 jobs in office and administrative support, accounting for 16.6 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 15.1-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $17.34, significantly below the national wage of $18.75.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the office and administrative support group included customer service representatives (12,340); secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive (7,880); and first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers (7,030). 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 $25.31 and $24.95, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks ($10.22) and clerical library assistants ($11.78). (Detailed data for 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 Metropolitan Statistical 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 2.0 times the national rate in Columbia, and bill and account collectors, at 1.9 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing 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 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.

Area Changes to the May 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

OES continues to publish data for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas that cover the full geography of the United States. However, the level of detail available has decreased.

OES no longer publishes data for metropolitan divisions. Data for the 11 large metropolitan areas that contain divisions are now available at the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or New England City and Town Area (NECTA) level only.

In addition, some smaller nonmetropolitan areas have been combined to form larger nonmetropolitan areas. The May 2018 OES estimates contain data for 134 nonmetropolitan areas, compared with 167 nonmetropolitan areas in the May 2017 estimates.

More information on these area changes is available at

Implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System

The OES program plans to begin implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system with the May 2019 estimates, to be released by early April of 2020. Because each set of OES estimates is produced by combining three years of survey data, estimates for May 2019 and May 2020 will be based on a combination of survey data collected under the 2010 SOC and data collected under the 2018 SOC, and will use a hybrid of the two classification systems. The May 2021 OES estimates, to be released by early April of 2022, will be the first set of estimates based fully on the 2018 SOC. For more information, 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 1.2 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 2018 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2018, November 2017, May 2017, November 2016, May 2016, and November 2015. The unweighted sample employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 58 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 Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,777 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 2018 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 Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Richland, and Saluda Counties.

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, Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2018
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Office and administrative support occupations

63,060 1.1 $17.34 $36,060

First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers

7,030 1.8 25.31 52,640

Switchboard operators, including answering service

260 1.4 14.87 30,920

Bill and account collectors

1,240 1.9 15.98 33,230

Billing and posting clerks

1,570 1.3 16.57 34,470

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

3,840 1.0 18.41 38,290

Payroll and timekeeping clerks

300 0.8 20.97 43,620

Procurement clerks

250 1.4 21.19 44,080


900 0.7 14.70 30,580

Brokerage clerks

80 0.5 23.91 49,740

Court, municipal, and license clerks

410 1.1 16.80 34,940

Credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks

110 1.4 19.75 41,090

Customer service representatives

12,340 1.6 15.92 33,120

Eligibility interviewers, government programs

50 0.1 20.13 41,870

File clerks

230 0.8 14.05 29,230

Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks

980 1.4 10.22 21,250

Interviewers, except eligibility and loan

600 1.2 14.89 30,980

Library assistants, clerical

180 0.8 11.78 24,510

Loan interviewers and clerks

610 1.1 19.67 40,910

New accounts clerks

(5) (5) 18.35 38,160

Order clerks

230 0.6 16.38 34,070

Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

400 1.2 18.33 38,130

Receptionists and information clerks

1,750 0.6 13.04 27,130

Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks

200 0.6 12.94 26,920

Information and record clerks, all other

290 0.7 21.18 44,050

Couriers and messengers

610 3.1 11.94 24,840

Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers

240 1.0 14.98 31,160

Dispatchers, except police, fire, and ambulance

360 0.7 22.44 46,670

Meter readers, utilities

130 1.5 19.50 40,560

Postal service clerks

130 0.6 24.36 50,670

Postal service mail carriers

900 1.0 24.67 51,320

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators

420 1.6 23.73 49,370

Production, planning, and expediting clerks

680 0.7 24.22 50,380

Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks

1,620 0.9 14.66 30,480

Stock clerks and order fillers

3,810 0.7 12.44 25,880

Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping

(5) (5) 15.82 32,900

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants

980 0.7 24.95 51,900

Legal secretaries

490 1.1 21.88 45,510

Medical secretaries

1,700 1.1 16.99 35,330

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

7,880 1.4 17.40 36,200

Computer operators

100 1.1 21.23 44,150

Data entry keyers

400 0.9 13.13 27,300

Insurance claims and policy processing clerks

1,450 2.0 17.14 35,650

Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service

190 0.9 14.62 30,420

Office clerks, general

5,810 0.7 13.24 27,530

Statistical assistants

80 2.9 19.37 40,290

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Columbia, 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: Thursday, July 18, 2019