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Comparing Alternative Median Wage Rate Estimators for the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey

Carrae Echols, Kenneth W. Robertson, and Albert Tou


The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is an employment and wage survey of nonfarm business establishments conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational employment and wage rate data are collected in a continuous 3-year cycle. The employment of each occupation is reported by coding employees into one of 11 contiguous, non-overlapping wage intervals. Note that the exact wage of individual workers is not reported. In this paper we evaluate alternative estimators used to calculate the mean and median wage rates of each occupation based on multi-year data sets. Exact wage data collected by the Bureau's Compensation and Working Conditions (CWC) surveys are used to evaluate these estimators by grouping the CWC data into wage intervals. Afterwards, alternative mean and median wage rate estimators are used to estimate wage rates for each occupation based on the grouped data. "True" mean and median wage rate values are calculated for each occupation by using the exact wage data reported by the CWC surveys. The wage rate estimates produced by each estimator are then compared to these corresponding "true" wage values.