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Wednesday, July 10, 2019


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton — May 2018

Workers in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $19.52 in May 2018, about 22 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 life, physical, and social science. One group—farming, fishing, and forestry—had a significantly higher wage than its respective national average.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 4 of the 22 occupational groups, including production, and transportation and material moving. Conversely, 16 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations; office and administrative support; and computer and mathematical. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2018
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Hickory United States Hickory Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $24.98 $19.52* -22


5.3 3.1* 58.44 52.85* -10

Business and financial operations

5.3 2.4* 36.98 31.37* -15

Computer and mathematical

3.0 0.8* 44.01 30.83* -30

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.1* 42.01 33.83* -19

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.3* 36.62 26.00* -29

Community and social service

1.5 1.3* 23.69 21.45* -9


0.8 0.2* 52.25 26.06* -50

Education, training, and library

6.1 5.1* 27.22 20.35* -25

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 0.6* 28.74 22.16* -23

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.0 6.0 39.42 37.06 -6

Healthcare support

2.8 4.3* 15.57 13.06* -16

Protective service

2.4 2.2* 23.36 17.42* -25

Food preparation and serving related

9.2 8.2* 12.30 10.23* -17

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.1 2.0* 14.43 12.15* -16

Personal care and service

3.8 2.3* 13.51 11.96* -11

Sales and related

10.0 10.0 20.09 17.98* -11

Office and administrative support

15.1 12.9* 18.75 16.53* -12

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 (2)* 14.49 16.54* 14

Construction and extraction

4.1 2.3* 24.62 18.73* -24

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.6* 23.54 20.73* -12


6.3 21.2* 18.84 17.01* -10

Transportation and material moving

7.1 9.1* 18.41 16.38* -11

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
(2) Indicates a value of less than 0.05 percent
* 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—production—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton had 32,740 jobs in production, accounting for 21.2 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.3-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $17.01, significantly below the national wage of $18.84.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the production group included assemblers and fabricators, all other, including team assemblers (4,180); upholsterers (3,700); and sewing machine operators (2,340). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were first-line supervisors of production and operating workers, and tool and die makers, with mean hourly wages of $26.68 and $22.91, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were laundry and dry-cleaning workers ($11.06) and meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers ($11.23). (Detailed data for production occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_25860.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 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the production group. For instance, upholsterers were employed at 105.6 times the national rate in Hickory, and hand cutters and trimmers, at 86.6 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers had a location quotient of 1.2 in Hickory, 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 North Carolina Department of Commerce.

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 www.bls.gov/oes/areas_2018.htm.

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 www.bls.gov/oes/soc_2018.htm.

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 www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm.

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 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,661 establishments with a response rate of 84 percent. For more information about OES 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.

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 www.bls.gov/soc and information about the 2017 NAICS is available at www.bls.gov/bls/naics.htm.

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 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties.

Additional information

OES data are available on our regional web page at www.bls.gov/regions/southeast. Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm. Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/oes/current/methods_statement.pdf.

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

Production occupations

32,740 3.4 $17.01 $35,370

First-line supervisors of production and operating workers

1,910 2.9 26.68 55,500

Coil winders, tapers, and finishers

60 4.3 15.72 32,700

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

520 1.8 14.93 31,050

Structural metal fabricators and fitters

40 0.5 21.31 44,330

Assemblers and fabricators, all other, including team assemblers

4,180 2.9 13.73 28,570


70 0.4 12.38 25,750

Butchers and meat cutters

80 0.6 16.85 35,060

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers

460 2.8 11.23 23,360

Slaughterers and meat packers

60 0.7 12.66 26,340

Food batchmakers

220 1.3 19.89 41,360

Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic

130 0.9 15.69 32,630

Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers, metal and plastic

60 2.5 19.11 39,750

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

1,360 16.9 20.40 42,420

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

30 1.2 20.32 42,270

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

360 1.8 12.60 26,200

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

130 1.7 16.73 34,810

Lathe and turning machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

60 1.9 21.14 43,980


530 1.3 18.98 39,470

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

540 3.1 14.79 30,770

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

300 2.1 16.27 33,830

Tool and die makers

110 1.4 22.91 47,650

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

490 1.2 17.28 35,940

Heat treating equipment setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

40 2.1 19.45 40,460

Prepress technicians and workers

40 1.1 19.15 39,830

Printing press operators

240 1.3 17.70 36,830

Print binding and finishing workers

30 0.7 13.51 28,090

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

400 1.8 11.06 23,010

Sewing machine operators

2,340 16.1 17.03 35,420

Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders

480 48.6 14.17 29,470

Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders

370 26.0 16.56 34,440

Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders

470 21.0 14.70 30,570

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

810 24.1 12.63 26,270

Extruding and forming machine setters, operators, and tenders, synthetic and glass fibers

(5) (5) 15.97 33,220

Fabric and apparel patternmakers

110 20.3 21.02 43,730


3,700 105.6 20.82 43,310

Textile, apparel, and furnishings workers, all other

290 17.7 13.39 27,850

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters

610 5.6 13.26 27,590

Furniture finishers

590 31.9 14.83 30,840

Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood

300 5.5 15.52 32,280

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing

1,080 12.8 16.33 33,970

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

130 1.0 18.72 38,940

Chemical equipment operators and tenders

80 1.0 16.38 34,070

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

60 1.7 15.94 33,160

Grinding and polishing workers, hand

150 4.8 13.89 28,880

Mixing and blending machine setters, operators, and tenders

340 2.5 14.63 30,430

Cutters and trimmers, hand

980 86.6 18.53 38,540

Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders

590 9.1 17.23 35,850

Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders

(5) (5) 15.37 31,960

Furnace, kiln, oven, drier, and kettle operators and tenders

30 1.7 15.92 33,100

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

1,650 2.8 16.24 33,780

Dental laboratory technicians

80 2.1 20.32 42,260

Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders

910 2.2 13.71 28,530

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

420 4.5 15.52 32,280

Painters, transportation equipment

(5) (5) 22.31 46,400

Painting, coating, and decorating workers

60 4.6 14.45 30,050

Adhesive bonding machine operators and tenders

330 19.1 12.11 25,180

Cleaning, washing, and metal pickling equipment operators and tenders

30 1.7 14.71 30,600

Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders

360 3.4 18.20 37,860

Tire builders

40 1.6 11.34 23,580

Helpers--production workers

1,150 3.1 15.47 32,190

Production workers, all other

200 0.8 16.74 34,810

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, see www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_25860.htm.
(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, July 10, 2019