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by: Mike Evans

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) staff of Research & Planning (R&P), funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Employment Training Administration (ETA), conducts an annual wage survey for Wyoming. The results and methodology are reviewed yearly for accuracy and defenseability. The results are published yearly in the Wyoming Labor Force Trends and in this separate detailed OES publication.

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

The new OES survey allows one to compare wages in Wyoming directly with wages in other states. 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. Employers with occupations in regional labor markets, especially computer specialists, experience a difficult time when they are in high demand during recruitment and retention of employees. Comparing wages from state to state gives one the ability to ensure competitiveness within the labor market.

The unique and special thing about this survey is its national character. The annual BLS contract requires us to publish statewide occupational wage rates (see Table 1), along with every other state publishing results and BLS publishing all states and national data on its Internet homepage at: http://stats.bls.gov. R&P will publish all occupational wage rates by substate region (see Tables 2,3,4 & 5) and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (see Tables 6 & 7), and statewide (see Table 1).

We are presently collecting data for next year’s survey round, so we encourage employers to provide wage data. The forms seem overwhelming, but really only take 5 to 10 minutes to fill out. Thanks to the many cooperative employers, we had 80 and 82 percent response rates in the last two survey years. We are required each year to meet a 75 percent response rate. The next year of the OES survey will be added to the current two years of data, 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. This year’s results will not be as detailed as some would like due to confidentiality and response rates. The third year data will include even more detail than this year.

One problem with combining data is time series breaks, making year-to-year comparisons in certain occupations difficult. For example, last year computer programmers and systems analysts were combined into one occupation and now are separated out in Table 11. This year’s results include approximately one hundred and eighty one new specific occupations that were not available last year causing a number of time series breaks at the detailed occupational level.

The average wage information in this publication is based on responses from many employers. While the average wage for occupations may be similar, response distributions may vary substantially from occupation to occupation. For example, normal distributions look like (OES code 15017) Construction Managers (see Figure 1), while others can be skewed to the low or high end of the wage scale, like (OES code 13017) Engineering, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences Managers (see Figure 2). The 1997 mean wage for Construction Managers is $22 per hour. The 1997 mean wage for Engineering Managers is $29.40 per hour. Then you have distributions like (OES code 15011) Property/Real Estate Managers (see Figure 3) that are high and low with a mean wage of $12.82 per hour (seeWage ranges).

Along with the OES survey, BLS publishes the Employee Benefits and Occupational Compensation Surveys, soon combined into Comp 2000, while Wyoming is considering publishing a Benefits survey to look at the total labor costs not just wages. Also, BLS and ETA are looking at the feasibility of including the Davis-Bacon surveys into OES within the next year.

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

1 due to confidentiality and response rates.

Figure 1: Construction Managers

Figure 2: Engineering, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences Managers

Figure 3: Property/Real Estate Managers


    Wage ranges used in graphs

A-under $6.75 B-$6.75-8.49
C-$8.50-9.99 D-$10.00-11.24
E-$11.25-13.24 F-$13.25-15.74
G-$15.75-19.24 H-$19.25-24.24
I-$24.25-43.24 J-$43.25-60.00
K-$60.01 and over  

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