Thursday, July 07, 2022
Workers in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $30.93 in May 2021, about 10 percent above the nationwide average of $28.01, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Chris Rosenlund noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were higher than their respective national averages in 16 of the 22 major occupational groups, including healthcare practitioners and technical, educational instruction and library, and construction and extraction. Only one group had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages: legal.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, Portland area employment was more highly concentrated in 9 of the 22 occupational groups, including architecture and engineering, management, and computer and mathematical. Nine groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including healthcare support, educational instruction and library, and healthcare practitioners and technical. (See table A.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Portland||United States||Portland||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—architecture and engineering—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Portland had 34,370 jobs in architecture and engineering, accounting for 3.1 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 1.7-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $46.99, significantly above the national wage of $44.10.
Some of the larger detailed occupations within the architecture and engineering group included computer hardware engineers (7,430), civil engineers (3,410), and industrial engineers (3,400). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were computer hardware engineers and health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors, with mean hourly wages of $65.77 and $54.38, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians ($23.30) and surveying and mapping technicians ($27.73). (Detailed data for the architecture and engineering occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_38900.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 Portland area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the architecture and engineering group. For instance, computer hardware engineers were employed at 12.6 times the national rate in Portland, and industrial engineering technologists and technicians, at 4.2 times the U.S. average. Surveying and mapping technicians had a location quotient of 1.0 in Portland, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.
These statistics are from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Oregon Employment Department, and the Washington Employment Security Department.
With the May 2021 estimates release, the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program has implemented a new model-based (MB3) estimation method. For more information, see the May 2021 Survey Methods and Reliability Statement at www.bls.gov/oes/methods_21.pdf and the Monthly Labor Review article at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/article/model-based-estimates-for-the-occupational-employment-statistics-program.htm. OEWS estimates for the years 2015-19 were recalculated using the new estimation method and are available as research estimates at www.bls.gov/oes/oes-mb3-methods.htm.
The May 2021 OEWS estimates are also the first estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. To improve data quality, the OEWS program aggregates some occupations to the SOC broad occupation level or as OEWS-specific combinations of 2018 SOC detailed occupations.
The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey is a semiannual survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OEWS 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. OEWS data are available at www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm.
The OEWS 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. OEWS estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 179,000 to 187,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by Internet or other electronic means, mail, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2021 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2021, November 2020, May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, and November 2018. The unweighted sampled employment of 82 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 62 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 67.2 percent based on establishments and 64.5 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area included 7,159 establishments with a response rate of 73 percent. For more information about OEWS 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.
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 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Clackamas County, OR; Columbia County, OR; Multnomah County, OR; Washington County, OR; Yamhill County, OR; Clark County, WA; and Skamania County, WA.
For more information
Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual (4)|
Architecture and engineering occupations
Architects, except landscape and naval
Cartographers and photogrammetrists
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers
Computer hardware engineers
Electronics engineers, except computer
Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors
Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers
Engineers, all other
Architectural and civil drafters
Electrical and electronics drafters
Drafters, all other
Civil engineering technologists and technicians
Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians
Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians
Environmental engineering technologists and technicians
Industrial engineering technologists and technicians
Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians
Calibration technologists and technicians
Engineering technologists and technicians, except drafters, all other
Surveying and mapping technicians
Last Modified Date: Thursday, July 07, 2022