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Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics
OEWS OEWS Program Links


The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program conducts a semiannual survey designed to produce estimates of employment and wages for specific occupations. The OEWS program collects data on wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in order to produce employment and wage estimates for about 800 occupations. Data from self-employed persons are not collected and are not included in the estimates. The OEWS program produces these occupational estimates for the nation as a whole, by state, by metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area, and by industry or ownership. The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces occupational employment and wage estimates for approximately 415 industry classifications at the national level. The industry classifications correspond to the sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industrial groups.

The OEWS program surveys approximately 180,000 to 185,000 establishments per panel (every six months), taking three years to fully collect the sample of 1.1 million establishments. To reduce respondent burden, the collection is on a three-year survey cycle that ensures that establishments are surveyed at most once every three years. The estimates for occupations in nonfarm establishments are based on OEWS data collected for the reference months of May and November.

The OEWS survey is a federal-state cooperative program between the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS provides the procedures and technical support, draws the sample, and produces the survey materials, while the SWAs collect the data. SWAs from all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands participate in the survey. Occupational employment and wage rate estimates at the national level are produced by BLS using data from the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Employers who respond to states' requests to participate in the OEWS survey make these estimates possible.

The employment data are benchmarked to an average of the May and November employment levels. The most recent wage data are for May 2020. The OEWS survey began using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in 2002. The May 2020 OEWS estimates are based on the 2017 NAICS classification system. Data prior to 2002 are based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.

In 1999, the OEWS survey began using the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The May 2010 OEWS estimates marked the first set of estimates based, in part, on data collected for the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification system. The May 2020 OEWS estimates are based on a “hybrid” structure that is combination of the 2010 SOC and 2018 SOC.

Prior to 1996, the OEWS program collected only occupational employment data for selected industries in each year of the three-year survey cycle, and produced only industry-specific estimates of occupational employment. The 1996 survey round was the first year that the OEWS program began collecting occupational employment and wage data in every state. In addition, the program's three-year survey cycle was modified to collect data from all covered industries each year. 1997 is the earliest year available for which the OEWS program produced estimates of cross-industry as well as industry-specific occupational employment and wages.

The May 2020 OEWS estimates are benchmarked to the average of the May 2020 and November 2019 reference periods. May 2020 employment and wage estimates are based on all data collected from establishments in the May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, and November 2017 semiannual samples. Wages for the current panel, May 2020, need no adjustment. However, wages in the five previous panels have been adjusted to the May 2020 reference period by using the over-the-year wage changes in the most applicable national Employment Cost Index series. For additional information, see the Technical Notes for May 2020 OEWS Estimates.

Survey Coverage and Scope

  • The OEWS survey covers all full-time and part-time wage and salary workers in nonfarm industries. Surveys collect data for the payroll period including the 12th day of May or November. The survey does not cover the self-employed, owners and partners in unincorporated firms, household workers, or unpaid family workers.

  • The OEWS survey produces estimates of occupational employment and wages at the NAICS sector, 3-digit, most 4-digit, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels. The OEWS survey covers the following NAICS industries:
    11     Logging (1133), support activities for crop production (1151), and support activities for animal production (1152) only.
    21     Mining
    22     Utilities
    23     Construction
    31-33 Manufacturing
    42     Wholesale trade
    44-45 Retail trade
    48-49 Transportation and warehousing
    51     Information
    52     Finance and insurance
    53     Real estate and rental and leasing
    54     Professional, scientific, and technical services
    55     Management of companies and enterprises
    56     Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services
    61     Educational services
    62     Healthcare and social assistance
    71     Arts, entertainment, and recreation
    72     Accommodation and food services
    81     Other services (except federal, state, and local Government)
    99     Federal, state, and local government (OEWS designation)

Occupational employment and wage estimates available on the OEWS web site

Uses of OEWS data

  • Analysis of occupational employment
  • Analysis of occupational wages
  • Development of occupational projections
  • Vocational counseling and planning
  • Industry skill and technology studies
  • Market analysis


Last Modified Date: March 31, 2021