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Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics


The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates for approximately 830 occupations based on a survey of business establishments (employers). The OEWS survey covers wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments and does not include the self-employed, owners and partners in unincorporated firms, household workers, or unpaid family workers.

OEWS data are published annually with a May reference date. The OEWS data available from BLS include cross-industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation; over 580 areas, including states and the District of Columbia, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), nonmetropolitan areas, and territories; national industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-digit, most 4-digit, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels; and national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals.

The OEWS estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments collected over a 3-year period. The OEWS survey sample is drawn from the database of businesses reporting to the state unemployment insurance (UI) programs. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 179,000 to 187,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. The full six-panel sample of 1.1 million establishments allows the production of estimates at detailed levels of geography, industry, and occupation, while reducing respondent burden by ensuring that establishments are surveyed at most once every three years.

The OEWS program uses the Office of Management and Budget’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system to classify jobs into occupations based on their job duties. The May 2021 OEWS estimates are the first OEWS estimates based solely on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC. The May 2021 estimates also use the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to classify business establishments into industries based on the establishment’s primary activity.

The May 2021 OEWS estimates were produced by a model-based estimation method using three years of OEWS data (MB3). Each establishment’s population employment is set as the average of its May 2021 and November 2020 employment from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, the UI database from which the OEWS sample is drawn. Using adjustment factors derived from the OEWS survey data, wages collected in earlier survey panels are adjusted to the reference date of the estimates and donor wages are adjusted for differences between donor and recipient characteristics such as geographic area and industry. For additional information, see the Technical Notes for May 2021 OEWS Estimates.

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.


Last Modified Date: June 22, 2022