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Tuesday, June 25, 2019


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Knoxville — May 2018

Workers in the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $21.70 in May 2018, about 13 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, 18 of the 22 major occupational groups had average wages in the local area that were significantly lower than their respective national averages, including computer and mathematical; management; and healthcare practitioners and technical.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 9 of the 22 occupational groups, including office and administrative support; sales and related; and management. Conversely, 11 groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations; education, training, and library; 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 Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2018
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Knoxville United States Knoxville Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $24.98 $21.70* -13


5.3 6.0* 58.44 47.62* -19

Business and financial operations

5.3 4.2* 36.98 31.28* -15

Computer and mathematical

3.0 2.2* 44.01 34.46* -22

Architecture and engineering

1.8 2.3* 42.01 42.50 1

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.9* 36.62 34.86 -5

Community and social service

1.5 1.1* 23.69 19.54* -18


0.8 0.6* 52.25 41.26* -21

Education, training, and library

6.1 5.0* 27.22 23.54* -14

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.0* 28.74 23.38* -19

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.0 6.6* 39.42 32.53* -17

Healthcare support

2.8 2.5* 15.57 14.52* -7

Protective service

2.4 2.0* 23.36 20.47* -12

Food preparation and serving related

9.2 9.3 12.30 10.27* -17

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.1 3.6* 14.43 12.21* -15

Personal care and service

3.8 2.9* 13.51 11.57* -14

Sales and related

10.0 11.2* 20.09 16.79* -16

Office and administrative support

15.1 16.7* 18.75 17.26* -8

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 14.49 16.15* 11

Construction and extraction

4.1 3.5* 24.62 20.61* -16

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.3* 23.54 21.46* -9


6.3 6.8* 18.84 19.15 2

Transportation and material moving

7.1 7.2 18.41 16.78* -9

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Knoxville 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. Knoxville had 64,090 jobs in office and administrative support, accounting for 16.7 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 15.1-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $17.26, significantly below the national wage of $18.75.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the office and administrative support group included general office clerks (8,470); customer service representatives (7,810); and stock clerks and order fillers (7,530). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, and production, planning, and expediting clerks, with mean hourly wages of $27.64 and $25.20, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks ($9.37) and stock clerks and order fillers ($12.91). (Detailed data for office and administrative support occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_28940.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 Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the office and administrative support group. For instance, computer operators were employed at 3.3 times the national rate in Knoxville, and interviewers, except eligibility and loan, at 1.7 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, customer service representatives had a location quotient of 1.0 in Knoxville, 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.

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 Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,950 establishments with a response rate of 66 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 Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Grainger, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Roane, and Union 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, Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2018
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Office and administrative support occupations

64,090 1.1 $17.26 $35,900

First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers

4,800 1.2 27.64 57,500

Switchboard operators, including answering service

250 1.3 13.56 28,200

Bill and account collectors

700 1.0 16.70 34,730

Billing and posting clerks

1,660 1.3 17.33 36,040

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

4,230 1.0 18.80 39,100

Payroll and timekeeping clerks

310 0.8 20.35 42,340

Procurement clerks

120 0.7 22.21 46,200


1,340 1.1 13.17 27,390

Financial clerks, all other

60 0.7 23.38 48,620

Brokerage clerks

80 0.6 23.27 48,390

Court, municipal, and license clerks

580 1.5 18.54 38,560

Credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks

270 3.3 19.58 40,720

Customer service representatives

7,810 1.0 15.43 32,100

Eligibility interviewers, government programs

220 0.6 17.56 36,520

File clerks

410 1.4 15.32 31,870

Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks

590 0.9 9.37 19,500

Interviewers, except eligibility and loan

870 1.7 13.39 27,840

Library assistants, clerical

210 0.9 13.20 27,460

Loan interviewers and clerks

490 0.8 19.51 40,590

New accounts clerks

110 1.0 15.81 32,890

Order clerks

840 2.0 15.46 32,160

Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

290 0.9 18.48 38,440

Receptionists and information clerks

2,590 0.9 13.74 28,580

Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks

(5) (5) 15.96 33,190

Information and record clerks, all other

550 1.3 16.08 33,440

Cargo and freight agents

50 0.2 20.60 42,840

Couriers and messengers

190 0.9 14.84 30,870

Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers

270 1.1 18.80 39,100

Dispatchers, except police, fire, and ambulance

710 1.4 18.39 38,250

Meter readers, utilities

70 0.8 21.77 45,280

Postal service clerks

180 0.8 24.01 49,940

Postal service mail carriers

930 1.0 25.01 52,010

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators

400 1.4 23.72 49,330

Production, planning, and expediting clerks

1,220 1.3 25.20 52,410

Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks

1,910 1.1 14.87 30,930

Stock clerks and order fillers

7,530 1.4 12.91 26,850

Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping

230 1.3 17.55 36,510

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants

640 0.4 24.83 51,650

Legal secretaries

340 0.7 23.48 48,840

Medical secretaries

1,260 0.8 15.07 31,350

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

6,810 1.2 16.81 34,960

Computer operators

300 3.3 19.67 40,920

Data entry keyers

620 1.4 15.11 31,430

Word processors and typists

310 2.2 16.29 33,880

Insurance claims and policy processing clerks

400 0.6 17.83 37,080

Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service

200 0.9 14.66 30,490

Office clerks, general

8,470 1.1 16.50 34,320

Office machine operators, except computer

150 1.2 14.23 29,590

Statistical assistants

40 1.3 22.65 47,110

Office and administrative support workers, all other

1,080 2.1 19.66 40,900

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area, see www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_28940.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: Tuesday, June 25, 2019