Research & Planning’s New Hires Survey was designed to capture detailed information on occupations, benefits, wages, full- or part-time employment status, education and licensing requirements, and necessary skills for Wyoming jobs. These results are intended for use by a wide variety of audiences, including training providers and educators, job seekers, and employers.
The Research & Planning (R&P) section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has conducted the Department of Workforce Services Job Skills Survey, otherwise known as the New Hires Survey, since fourth quarter 2009 (2009Q4). Although R&P uses many secondary data sets such as Wage Records, the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, and Wyoming driver’s license files to conduct economic research, there are some questions that surveys are better suited to answer.
The results of the New Hires Survey are available on R&P’s website (http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/newhires.htm) and are updated annually. Training providers and educators can use R&P’s occupational projections data (http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/projections.htm) to identify occupations that are projected to grow iand use data from the New Hires Survey, such as education and licensing requirements and necessary job skills, to inform their training programs. Likewise, job seekers can use New Hires Survey data to explore occupations in which they may be interested in terms of wages and benefits offered, licensing and educational requirements, and necessary job skills. Employers can use these data to compare the wages and benefits they offer their employees to statewide totals for similar occupations.
This article provides a brief overview of the characteristics of new hires by occupation across all industries. A second article will provide a detailed comparison of new hires in the health care & social assistance and educational services industries. Detailed results of the New Hires Survey by industry are currently available online at http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/newhires.htm.
The New Hires Survey collects information about wages and benefits, job duties, license and education requirements, and job skills for jobs filled in Wyoming. New hires are defined as workers who had not previously worked for a particular employer since 1992, the first year for which wage records are available for analyses (Knapp, 2011). New hires data are used in this research to identify jobs being filled across the state.
A random sample of new hires, chosen to statistically represent all industries, is drawn each quarter and a questionnaire with a cover letter is mailed to each worker’s employer. The cover letter includes a short description of the study’s purpose, which is to collect information about the skill requirements of jobs in Wyoming, as well as a statement of how these data will be used. The cover letter states that this information will be available to educators, training providers, and vocational counselors to help develop curriculums emphasizing the needed skills as indicated by the results of the survey, but, as noted in the introduction of this article, the audience for these results is much broader than just educators.
The questionnaire identifies the time frame to which the study refers, which is typically six months prior to when the survey instruments are mailed out. The questions asked in the questionnaire refer to the job filled by the employee rather than the employee specifically, with the exception of one question asking the employer to rate his or her satisfaction with the employee’s job skills.
This year, eight quarters of data were combined to create the new hires estimates used for this article. This was done because R&P samples a relatively small number of new hires each quarter and small samples can distort the estimates. Adding together two years of data improves these estimates. Although the response rate can vary by industry and quarter, as shown in Table 1, R&P received an overall response rate of at least 70.0% for nearly all of the quarters included in this analysis.
More information about the methodology, including why new hires were chosen to represent jobs in the state and a more detailed explanation of the sampling methodology, as well as the complete results of this survey can be found at http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/newhires.htm.
Table 2 provides an overview of the 20 occupations with the largest number of new hires between 2010Q4 and 2012Q3 across all industries combined. The occupation with the largest number of new hires during this period was cashiers (9,937), followed by truck drivers, heavy & tractor trailer (8,810), and retail salespersons (7,232).
Of these top 20 occupations, females made up the greatest proportion of all new hires employed as office clerks, general (65.6%), waiters & waitresses (63.4%), bartenders (62.9%), and cashiers (60.6%). while truck drivers, heavy & tractor trailer (79.3%), roustabouts, oil and gas (79.3%), and construction laborers (78.3%) had the largest proportions of male workers. Nonresidents, who are defined as “individuals without a Wyoming-issued driver’s license or at least four quarters of work history in Wyoming” (Jones, 2002), constituted at least one-fourth of all new hires in two occupations: maids & housekeeping cleaners (27.2%) and cooks, restaurant (26.0%). An article focusing specifically on nonresident new hires in Wyoming will be published in a future issue of Wyoming Labor Force Trends.
Thirteen of the top 20 occupations typically required a high school diploma or GED as the highest level of education. These occupations included truck drivers, heavy & tractor trailer; roustabouts, oil & gas; carpenters; and office clerks, general. Five occupations, including cashiers; combined food preparation & serving workers, including fast food; and cooks, fast food, typically required less than a high school diploma. Only two occupations (welders, cutters, solderers, & brazers; and operating engineers & other construction equipment operators) typically required education beyond high school.
For purposes of this article, turnover rate is defined as the percentage of new hires who left their employer by the quarter after the questionnaire was completed. Turnover rates were relatively high for all of the top 20 occupations, but particularly for construction laborers (41.1%), janitors & cleaners (36.1%), and maids & housekeeping cleaners (35.4%). Bartenders (5.6%) had the lowest turnover rate of all occupations in the top 20.
Table 3 contains median wage and benefit data for the 20 occupations with the largest number of new hires. Employers who completed this questionnaire were asked to provide the employee’s wages in whatever form they wanted (e.g., hourly, monthly, annually), but the results have all been converted to an hourly wage. If the employee was paid a piece rate (e.g., by the mile), that wage was included in a separate variable for piece rate pay and is available on R&P’s website (http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/newhires.htm). The median wage for all new hires was $12.32 per hour, but workers in 14 of the top 20 occupations had a median wage that was less than that.
Approximately 31.8% of all new hires were offered health insurance benefits, 22.1% were offered retirement benefits, and 26.8% were offered paid time off, although the proportion of workers who were offered these benefits varied by occupation. For example, 55.1% of welders, cutters, solderers, & brazers and 50.0% of truck drivers, heavy & tractor trailer were offered health insurance benefits. Just over one-third of truck drivers, heavy & tractor trailer (34.7%) and nearly one-third of welders, cutters, solderers, & brazers (31.7%) were offered retirement benefits, while 37.3% of office clerks, general and 35.2% of laborers and freight, stock, & material movers, hand were offered paid time off.
Employers were asked to rate five skills (service orientation, critical thinking, reading comprehension, technology design, and operation and control; see Box for definitions) in terms of how important they were to the positions filled by new hires; the results for these questionnaire items are found in Table 4. Overall, for all new hires, 74.1% of employers identified critical thinking as important, while only 35.4% of employers rated technology design as important. Among individual occupations, 100.0% of employers rated service orientation as important for hotel, motel, & resort desk clerks. A large percentage of employers rated service orientation as important for cooks, fast food (97.4%) and cashiers (95.2%).
Critical thinking was rated as important by 94.1% of employers of carpenters and 90.7% of employers with newly hired operating engineers & other construction equipment operators. However, critical thinking was considered important for only 48.1% of employers of newly hired maids and housekeeping cleaners and 47.6% of employers of waiters and waitresses. Reading comprehension was considered important by 88.7% of employers of office clerks, general positions and 78.5% of employers of hotel, motel, & resort desk clerk positions. More than 50% of employers identified technology design as an important skill for just three of the top 20 occupations: welders, cutters, solderers, & brazers (59.1%), operating engineers & other construction equipment operators (52.0%) and carpenters (50.1%). Finally, operation and control was considered an important skill by nearly all employers of newly hired operating engineers & other construction equipment operators (96.4%), truck drivers, heavy & tractor-trailer (91.4%), and welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers (83.2%).
The results highlighted in this article are intended to provide a general overview of the positions that are most often filled by new hires in Wyoming. Many of these jobs tend to have lower wages, fewer benefits, and higher rates of turnover. The employers of these jobs tend to rate service orientation and critical thinking as important more often than any other skill. Most of these occupations require only a high school education or less.
The next article in this series in Wyoming Labor Force Trends will compare new hires in health care & social assistance and educational services to the total number of new hires across all industries. As that article will show, there is much variance in the number of new hires, types of occupations filled, skill and education levels required, wages, and benefits when the number of new hires is broken down by industry. Although the overview offered in this article offers a starting point for people interested in these various aspects of the labor market, it is advisable to data users such as educators or job seekers to delve deeper into the industry-level data. This allows educators a clearer view of what an occupation offers and what will need to be taught, and jobseekers will see what needs to be learned to stand a better chance of becoming employed in that occupation.
Jones, S. (2002). Defining residency for the Wyoming workforce. Wyoming Labor Force Trends, 39(11). Retrieved May 23, 2013, from http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/1102/a1.htm
Knapp, L. (2011). Survey captures data on Wyoming new hires. Wyoming Labor Force Trends, 48(2). Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/0211/a2.htm