Thursday, May 07, 2020
Workers in the Bellingham, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $24.23 in May 2019, about 6 percent below the nationwide average of $25.72, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 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 10 of the 22 major occupational groups, including protective service, food preparation and serving related, and construction and extraction. Seven 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, Bellingham area employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including construction and extraction, production, and food preparation and serving related. Conversely, ten groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including management, computer and mathematical, and transportation and material moving. (See table A and box note at end of release.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Bellingham||United States||Bellingham||Percent difference (1)|
Total, all occupations
Business and financial operations
Computer and mathematical
Architecture and engineering
Life, physical, and social science
Community and social service
Educational instruction and library
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media
Healthcare practitioners and technical
Food preparation and serving related
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance
Personal care and service
Sales and related
Office and administrative support
Farming, fishing, and forestry
Construction and extraction
Installation, maintenance, and repair
Transportation and material moving
One occupational group—construction and extraction—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Bellingham had 6,110 jobs in construction and extraction, accounting for 6.8 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 4.2-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $28.15, significantly above the national wage of $25.28.
Some of the larger detailed occupations within the construction and extraction group included construction laborers (1,270), carpenters (760), and electricians (730). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were drywall and ceiling tile installers and operating engineers and other construction equipment operators, with mean hourly wages of $36.11 and $36.04, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were miscellaneous construction and related workers ($16.55) and roofers ($21.73). (Detailed data for the construction and extraction occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_13380.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 Bellingham area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the construction and extraction group. For instance, roofers were employed at 2.5 times the national rate in Bellingham, and construction laborers, at 2.1 times the U.S. average. Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators had a location quotient of 1.4 in Bellingham, 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.
With the May 2019 estimates, the OES program has begun implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Each set of OES estimates is calculated from six panels of survey data collected over three years. Because the May 2019 estimates are based on a combination of survey data collected using the 2010 SOC and survey data collected using the 2018 SOC, these estimates use a hybrid of the two classification systems that contains some combinations of occupations that are not found in either the 2010 or 2018 SOC. These combinations may include occupations from more than one 2018 SOC minor group or broad occupation. Therefore, OES will not publish data for some 2018 SOC minor groups and broad occupations in the May 2019 estimates. The May 2021 estimates, to be published in Spring 2022, will be the first OES estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC.
In addition, the OES program has replaced some 2018 SOC detailed occupations with SOC broad occupations or OES-specific aggregations. These include home health aides and personal care aides, for which OES will publish only the 2018 SOC broad occupation 31-1120 Home Health and Personal Care Aides.
The May 2019 OES estimates use the metropolitan area definitions delineated in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin 17-01, which add a new Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for Twin Falls, Idaho. For more information on the area definitions used in the May 2019 estimates, please see www.bls.gov/oes/current/msa_def.htm.
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 1.1 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 2019 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, November 2017, May 2017, and November 2016. The unweighted sample employment of 83 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 71 percent based on establishments and 68 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Bellingham, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,358 establishments with a response rate of 77 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 2019 OES estimates are the first set of OES estimates to be based in part on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC. These estimates use a hybrid of the 2010 and 2018 SOC systems. More information on the hybrid classification system is available at www.bls.gov/oes/soc_2018.htm.
The May 2019 OES estimates are based on the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). More 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 Bellingham, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Whatcom County.
For more information
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.
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual (4)|
Construction and extraction occupations
First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
Cement masons and concrete finishers
Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
Drywall and ceiling tile installers
Insulation workers, floor, ceiling, and wall
Painters, construction and maintenance
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
Sheet metal workers
Structural iron and steel workers
Construction and building inspectors
Highway maintenance workers
Septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners
Miscellaneous construction and related workers
Last Modified Date: Thursday, May 07, 2020