Copyright 2004 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Vol. 41 No. 3    


Occupational Staffing Patterns Across Industries: 
A Demonstration

by: Sara Saulcy, Economist, and Tony Glover, Research Analyst

Occupational staffing patterns are a useful analytical tool to assist firms, workers, economic developers, and others to make informed staffing decisions. In particular, occupational staffing patterns show the types of occupations and prevailing wages usually found within an industry. They also show prevailing wages in a particular industry. Using an example, we illustrate how an economic developer can decide between two firms looking to locate to a specific area. Based on the information in the occupational staffing patterns, she can target her efforts towards firms that will meet community goals.

Established employers generally know the occupations required to staff their businesses. For example, existing Retail Trade employers opening new stores know they will need cashiers. For those outside of or not familiar with a particular industry, however, evaluating an industry's occupational needs presents more of a challenge. 

Consider the example of an economic developer, Jamie, who knows of two firms interested in locating to her area. One firm drills oil wells, while the other firm is a home improvement store. Both firms plan to employ approximately 125 workers. Jamie wants to focus her recruiting efforts on the employer that provides jobs which pay the highest average wages. Even though she has prior experience with both potential firms' industries, it is beneficial to review more objective measures, such as occupational staffing patterns which can serve both those lacking occupation/industry specific knowledge and those desiring hard data to confirm or refute their speculation. This article demonstrates how to use occupational staffing pattern data for decision making and informational purposes.

Occupational Staffing Patterns

Tables 1 and 2 demonstrate how occupational requirements vary by industry. Each table illustrates one firm with 125 workers. Table 1 shows a firm in Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 13, oil & gas extraction. Table 2 shows a firm in SIC 52, building materials, hardware, garden supply, & mobile home dealers. As the tables show, firms in SIC 13 typically require a more diverse set of occupations and related skills than do firms in SIC 52. Furthermore, only two occupations, Bookkeeping, Accounting, & Auditing and General & Operations Managers, are common to both industries. 

Wages among the occupations typically found in the two industries also differ. Occupations represented in SIC 13 pay a statewide annual average of $37,753 annually, while occupations in SIC 52 pay $22,672. Additionally, the proportion of high-wage jobs (paying more than $23,920; 130% of the 2003 federal poverty guideline) is much higher in SIC 13 (91.3% of jobs) than in SIC 52 (23.2% of jobs; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003). Considering only her goal of recruiting a high-paying firm, Jamie should direct her efforts toward the oil and gas firm.


Our hypothetical two-industry evaluation illustrates how occupational staffing patterns can help determine a course of action. While our example represents the standpoint of an economic developer, many other entities may also benefit from this type of analysis. New or relocating firms may obtain wage information for a given area to determine whether the prevailing wages are within their ability to pay. Additionally, firms may research alternate ways firms of their type are staffed. An entrepreneur can determine the occupational needs of a given industry and choose to open or expand a business. Workers can learn which occupations offer opportunities for the transferability of skills across various industries (for further information about skills needs across occupations, see O*NET Online at For many situations, occupational staffing patterns can help make informed decisions. 


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). 2003 HHS poverty guidelines. Retrieved July 8, 2003, from 

U.S. Department of Labor. (n.d.).O*NET online. Retrieved March 15, 2004, from 



Table of Contents | Labor Market Information | Wyoming Job Network | Send Us Mail

These pages designed by Julie Barnish.
Last modified on by Susan J. Murray.