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Copyright 1998 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning

1997 Wage Survey for Wyoming Revisited: Ownership Data

by: Mike Evans
Data Provided by: Deana Hauf

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) and Alien Labor Certification (ALC) programs of Research & Planning (R&P), funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Employment Training Administration (ETA), conduct an annual wage survey for Wyoming. The results and methodology are reviewed yearly by all three agencies for accuracy and defensibility in court for ALC purposes (see the Table for a portion(1) of the results). The results are published yearly in Wyoming Labor Force Trends and in a separate detailed OES publication.

The OES wage survey presents us with a tremendous amount of information available to the public and should increase the scope of labor market data. Every state is conducting the same wage survey using the same procedures, so we can compare wages by occupation from state to state as well as nationally. Also, R&P will be publishing occupational wage results by the mean, median, entry level, experienced level, ownership (state, local, and private), and occupational employment published at levels of statewide, Casper, Cheyenne and the four regions of the state.

The small population in Wyoming causes some unique results to occur. The result for the total statewide labor market (see the Table) includes all ownerships. For example, looking at the occupation welfare eligibility workers and interviewers including all workers (i.e., private, federal, state, and local) mean wages seem extremely high to state workers. But when we break out the ownership, state workers for that particular occupation are much lower. This is because federal employees in the "welfare eligibility workers and interviews" occupation, specifically social security workers, have a higher mean wage than state workers classified in the same position.

What makes the ownership break out so useful is the ability to allow for comparability and evaluation between state, federal and local workers and the rest of the market for a certain occupation. In another example of unique results, computer programmers and systems analysts are combined into one occupation at the statewide level (see the Table) but separated in the regional and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) data(2).

The new OES survey allows wage comparisons in Wyoming with wages in other states, one to one. Certain occupations have a local market wage (i.e., cashiers, secretaries, etc) while others have a regional or national market wage with comparable and/or competing employers. Employees with occupations in a regional labor market, especially professional and technical, are experiencing difficult times when it comes to recruitment and retention of employees. This is due to the exodus of employees to neighboring states(3) and nationally because of good economic conditions, as opposed to Wyoming’s economy(4).

For illustrative purposes, one big benefit of the OES survey compared with other wage surveys is the ability to distinguish between entry level and experienced positions within the state and other ownership break outs. For example, statisticians and economists in R&P fall into the entry level wage category. On the other hand, senior statisticians and senior economists fall into the experienced level wage. Each senior position requires two more years of professional work experience or a Master’s degree in statistics, economics, business or closely related field. In contrast to this feature, most other salary surveys (i.e., local salary surveys) only list the average wages for all statisticians and economists. There is no distinguishing between an economist and a senior economist. Low biased wage estimates are reported for senior positions with other salary surveys. With the OES survey, one can break out entry level (probationary entry level positions), mean level (economist positions) and experienced level positions (senior economist).

We are presently collecting data for next year's survey round, so we encourage employers to provide wage data. The forms seem overwhelming, but only take five to ten minutes to fill out. Thanks to the many cooperative employers, we had a 79 percent response rate in last year's survey, well above the 75 percent response rate that we are required to meet. The next two years of the OES survey will be added to the current year, creating greater detail at the statewide, regional and MSA level, including approximately 4,500 employers. This three-year cycle will allow more occupations to be published in the future, reduce response burden on the employers and improve the accuracy of the data so this year's results will not be as detailed as some would like due to confidentiality and response rates. The second and third years will include even more detail than this year.

The unique and special thing about this survey is its national character. The annual BLS contract requires us to publish occupational wage rates for all state and local government employees(1), along with every other state publishing results. The BLS will publish all states and national data on its Internet homepage at

Wyoming’s OES will publish all occupational wage rates by substate region(1), MSA, and statewide (see the Table). The OES survey allows comparison of occupational wages for the total labor market, including all ownerships (i.e., private, federal, state and local government) in Wyoming and state employee wages, along with regional break outs and state to state comparisons.

Mike Evans is a Senior Economist, supervising Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) programs with Research & Planning.

Deana Hauf is a Senior Statistician, specializing in Occupational Employment Statistics (OES).

1 If you would like a copy of the full version of the OES publication, please contact Deana Hauf at (307) 473-3805 or Krista Shinkle 473-3807.

2 This combination was necessary due to confidentiality and response rates.

3 Please refer to the Research & Planning publication, Tracking University of Wyoming Graduates Into the Wyoming Work-force.

4 Please refer to the article, "Labor and Population" in the February 1997 issue of Wyoming Labor Force Trends.

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Last modified on June 1, 2001 by Valerie A. Davis.