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National Compensation Survey - Wages

OCSP History

The Occupational Compensation Survey Program is a fairly new program, originating in 1990. It evolved from earlier compensation programs listed below.

Users Demand Area Data
Area Wage Surveys (AWS), initiated in the late 1940's, met the growing demand for local pay data for office clerical and manual jobs, common to a wide variety of manufacturing and nonmanufacturing industries. The AWS program was used in the wage stabilization effort during the Korean emergency. In 1960, the program was converted to a statistically selected group of areas from which data could be projected to represent all metropolitan areas of the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.

Nationwide White-Collar Surveys Used to Set Federal Pay
During the Eisenhower administration, an increasing concern developed for the principle that Federal white-collar pay rates should be reasonably comparable with prevailing non-Federal rates for the same kind of work. As a result, a special inter-agency work group was organized to design a survey of white-collar pay in private industry. In 1959, the Bureau began conducting an annual nationwide survey of professional, administrative, technical, and clerical jobs (PATC) similar to jobs found in the Federal government. The survey was conducted in a broad spectrum of private industries. While the survey was designed to administer the Federal Salary Reform Act of 1962, it was also used in administering the subsequent Federal Pay Comparability Act of 1970. Both statutes called for nationwide comparability of salaries of Federal Government employees and those in the private sector, and governed adjustments in pay of most Federal white-collar employees. The survey's coverage was expanded several times over the years, eventually including establishments with 50 or more employees in all private, nonfarm industries. In 1989, the PATC survey was renamed the White-collar Pay (WCP) survey.

The Service Contract Act
The Service Contract Act of 1965 required that the Secretary of Labor establish minimum rates of pay in establishments that provided services to the Federal Government. Such rates were to be based on prevailing rates of pay in the area (labor market) where the establishment was located. The Bureau's AWS program partially satisfied the Secretary's data needs. However, since BLS did not survey all areas necessary to administer the Service Contract Act, a survey program was developed to include all "labor markets" subject to the Act. These expanded studies were referred to as Service Contract Act (SCA) surveys.

FEPCA of 1990 and the Creation of OCSP
The Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) of 1990 provided for local variations in Federal white-collar pay scales in accordance with area differences in pay levels. The Bureau's traditional occupational wage surveys were changed considerably to accommodate the requirements of the Act, with resources formerly dedicated to three specific survey programs being used to carry out an improved and expanded locality pay program. The program has a new name, the Occupational Compensation Survey Program (OCSP), which distinguishes it from the largely subsumed AWS and WCP programs. OCSP permits presentation of occupational and industrial detail that was either unavailable in the past or available only at the national level. The new program: (1) expands the survey's industrial coverage to include State and local governments and all private nonfarm establishments (excluding households) employing 50 workers or more, and (2) adds more professional, administrative, technical, and protective service occupations to the survey.

View even earlier history on our compensation programs


Last Modified Date: October 16, 2001