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News Release Information

Thursday, July 07, 2016

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Occupational Employment and Wages in Tacoma-Lakewood — May 2015

Workers in the Tacoma-Lakewood Metropolitan Division had an average (mean) hourly wage of $23.23 in May 2015, equal to the nationwide average of $23.23, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Assistant Commissioner for Regional Operations Richard Holden noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were higher than their respective national averages in 12 of the 22 major occupational groups, including protective service; construction and extraction; and production. Six groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including legal; management; and arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including transportation and material moving; construction and extraction; and installation, maintenance, and repair. Conversely, eight groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including production; computer and mathematical; and management. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Tacoma-Lakewood Metropolitan Division, and measures of statistical significance, May 2015
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Tacoma United States Tacoma Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0% 100.0% $23.23 $23.23 0


5.0 4.0* 55.30 49.78* -10

Business and Financial Operations

5.1 4.3* 35.48 32.64* -8

Computer and Mathematical

2.9 1.6* 41.43 37.80* -9

Architecture and Engineering

1.8 1.0* 39.89 38.84 -3

Life, Physical, and Social Science

0.8 0.6* 34.24 33.28 -3

Community and Social Services

1.4 2.3* 22.19 21.68 -2


0.8 0.7 49.74 37.59* -24

Education, Training, and Library

6.2 6.3 25.48 24.58* -4

Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media

1.3 1.0* 27.39 22.92* -16

Healthcare Practitioner and Technical

5.8 6.5* 37.40 39.86* 7

Healthcare Support

2.9 2.8 14.19 16.97* 20

Protective Service

2.4 2.5 21.45 26.07* 22

Food Preparation and Serving Related

9.1 10.0* 10.98 12.51* 14

Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance

3.2 3.1 13.02 15.24* 17

Personal Care and Service

3.1 3.4 12.33 14.55* 18

Sales and Related

10.5 10.5 18.90 18.71 -1

Office and Administrative Support

15.8 15.9 17.47 18.57* 6

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

0.3 0.2* 12.67 17.87* 41

Construction and Extraction

4.0 5.0* 22.88 26.67* 17

Installation, Maintenance, and Repair

3.9 4.8* 22.11 24.65* 11


6.6 5.0* 17.41 20.75* 19

Transportation and Material Moving

6.9 8.5* 16.90 19.44* 15

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in Tacoma is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
* 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.

One occupational group—transportation and material moving—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Tacoma-Lakewood had 23,660 jobs in transportation and material moving, accounting for 8.5 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.9-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $19.44, significantly above the national wage of $16.90.

Some of the largest detailed occupations within the transportation and material moving group included laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand (6,090), heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (4,480), and industrial truck and tractor operators (2,210). Among the higher paying jobs were first-line supervisors of transportation and material-moving machine and vehicle operators and first-line supervisors of helpers, laborers, and material movers, by hand, with mean hourly wages of $33.52 and $28.15, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were parking lot attendants ($11.64) and cleaners of vehicles and equipment ($12.09). (Detailed occupational data for transportation and material moving 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 Tacoma-Lakewood Metropolitan Division, above-average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the transportation and material moving group. For instance, industrial truck and tractor operators were employed at 2.0 times the national rate in Tacoma, and driver/sales workers, at 2.0 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, light truck or delivery services drivers had a location quotient of 1.1 in Tacoma, 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 Washington Employment Security Department.

Notes on Occupational Employment Statistics Data

With the issuance of data for May 2015, the OES program has incorporated redefined metropolitan area definitions as designated by the Office of Management and Budget. OES data are available for 394 metropolitan areas, 38 metropolitan divisions, and 167 OES-defined nonmetropolitan areas. A listing of the areas and their definitions can be found 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 program produces employment and wage estimates for over 800 occupations for all industries combined in the nation; the 50 states and the District of Columbia; 432 metropolitan areas and divisions; 167 nonmetropolitan areas; and Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. National estimates are also available by industry for NAICS sectors, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit industries, and 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. Forms are mailed to approximately 200,000 sampled establishments in May and November each year. May 2015 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2015, November 2014, May 2014, November 2013, May 2013, and November 2012. The overall national response rate for the six panels is 73.5 percent based on establishments and 69.6 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The unweighted employment of sampled establishments across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 57.9 percent of total national employment. (Response rates are slightly lower for these estimates due to the federal shutdown in October 2013.) The sample in the Tacoma-Lakewood Metropolitan Division included 2,458 establishments with a response rate of 76 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

The May 2015 OES estimates are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at and information about the 2012 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 Tacoma-Lakewood, Wash. Metropolitan Division  includes Pierce County.

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, Tacoma-Lakewood Metropolitan Division, May 2015
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

23,660 1.2 $19.44 $40,430

First-Line Supervisors of Helpers, Laborers, and Material Movers, Hand

520 1.5 28.15 58,540

First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material-Moving Machine and Vehicle Operators

600 1.5 33.52 69,730

Commercial Pilots

(5) (5) (5) 63,880

Bus Drivers, School or Special Client

1,350 1.3 17.47 36,340

Driver/Sales Workers

1,670 2.0 14.29 29,720

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

4,480 1.3 22.77 47,360

Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers

1,760 1.1 19.87 41,320

Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs

200 0.6 14.31 29,770

Parking Lot Attendants

(5) (5) 11.64 24,210

Automotive and Watercraft Service Attendants

170 0.8 14.27 29,690

Conveyor Operators and Tenders

50 0.7 19.55 40,670

Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators

40 0.4 25.82 53,700

Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators

2,210 2.0 21.09 43,880

Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment

810 1.2 12.09 25,140

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand

6,090 1.2 17.56 36,530

Machine Feeders and Offbearers

110 0.5 16.06 33,410

Packers and Packagers, Hand

2,020 1.4 13.02 27,080

Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors

330 1.5 25.57 53,180

Tank Car, Truck, and Ship Loaders

80 3.4 (5) (5)

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in Tacoma-Lakewood, WA Metropolitan Division, 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 07, 2016