Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Labor Market Information Center

Occupational Wages - Technical Notes


Survey Based

The occupational wage data contained on this website were collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, conducted by the Labor Market Information Center in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The OES wage survey is based on a three-year data collection cycle; surveys are sent twice a year to capture data for 2nd quarter and 4th quarter reference periods. Survey recipients are scientifically selected based on business activity, geographic location and worker levels. Over the three-year survey cycle, approximately 7,200 establishments are contacted. For the most current survey year (2015), approximately 2,300 surveys were sent to establishments in South Dakota. More than 2,000 of the establishments responded, resulting in an 87 percent response rate. Those establishments responding accounted for 93 percent of the workers in the sample. BLS requires a 75 percent response for the OES program.

The website contains combined data from the entire three-year survey cycle. Estimates produced using only one year of sample data would be subject to a higher sampling error (due to the smaller sample size). Estimates based on more than one year of data provide significant sampling error reductions (particularly for small geographic areas and occupations), and the multiple years of data allow for the production of estimates at finer levels of geographic and occupational detail.

The use of multiple years of sample data to produce wage estimates requires the adjustment of wage data from previous reference periods — a procedure referred to as "wage updating." The OES program applies the percentage change of wage and salary components of the Employment Cost Index (ECI) to previous reference period survey data to reflect current wage levels. The ECI is produced by the BLS and measures the change over time in the compensation costs of employers.

Statistical Definitions

Published occupational statistics include the estimated number of workers, average wage and percentile wage data. Data is published only if confidentiality and statistical reliability criteria are met. Per federal regulations under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA), LMIC cannot provide data if there is a risk of employer identification. Wage data is initially viewed in the database as hourly rates, although an option is available to display the annual rates as well. Please note that hourly data is not available for some occupations, such as teachers. Workers in these occupations generally do not work the norm of 2,080 hours per year, and pay is usually based on an annual amount. Therefore, wages for these occupations are available only as annual salaries.

For certain entertainment occupations, only hourly wage data is available. There is a wide variation in the number of hours worked by those employed as actors, dancers, musicians and singers. Many jobs are for a duration of one day or one week and it is extremely rare for a performer to have guaranteed employment for a period that exceeds three to six months.

Mean/Average Wage: represents the arithmetic mean of the wage data collected, calculated by dividing the estimated total wages for an occupation by the number of workers in that occupation. The mean wage is also referred to as the average wage.

Percentile Wages: represents the percentage of an occupation's workers who earn less than or equal to that wage. For certain occupations, the upper percentile wages may not be available because of disclosure concerns or reliability issues. The following percentile wages represent distinct measures of the entire wage range:

10th Percentile: 10% earn less than or equal to this amount; 90% earn more

25th Percentile: 25% earn less than or equal to this amount; 75% earn more

50th Percentile: 50% earn less than or equal to this amount; 50% earn more (median wage)

75th Percentile: 75% earn less than or equal to this amount; 25% earn more

90th Percentile: 90% earn less than or equal to this amount; 10% earn more

Employment: represents an estimate of the total wage and salary workers employed in an occupation across all industries. For certain occupations, the number of workers statistic may not be available because of disclosure concerns or reliability issues.

Data Inclusions/Exclusions

Wages for the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey are straight-time, gross pay, exclusive of premium pay. Base rate, cost-of-living allowances, guaranteed pay, hazardous-duty pay, incentive pay including commissions and production bonuses, and tips are included. Excluded are overtime pay, severance pay, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses, employer cost for supplementary benefits, and tuition reimbursements.

For more technical information on the OES program, please see the technical notes posted on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.