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News Release Information

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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  • (404) 893-4220

Occupational Employment and Wages in Knoxville — May 2021

Workers in the Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $23.70 in May 2021, about 15 percent below the nationwide average of $28.01, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in 21 of the 22 major occupational groups.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, Knoxville area employment was more highly concentrated in 9 of the 22 occupational groups, including office and administrative support, production, and food preparation and serving related. Eleven groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, computer and mathematical, and educational instruction and library. (See table A.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Knoxville metropolitan area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2021
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Knoxville United States Knoxville Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $28.01 $23.70* -15


6.3 6.4 59.31 52.80* -11

Business and financial operations

6.4 4.7* 39.72 32.41* -18

Computer and mathematical

3.3 2.1* 48.01 36.79* -23

Architecture and engineering

1.7 2.3* 44.10 41.89* -5

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 1.2* 38.81 33.38* -14

Community and social service

1.6 1.3* 25.94 21.20* -18


0.8 0.6* 54.38 41.85* -23

Educational instruction and library

5.8 4.7* 29.88 25.59* -14

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.1* 31.78 24.15* -24

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.2 6.9* 43.80 36.40* -17

Healthcare support

4.7 3.7* 16.02 14.51* -9

Protective service

2.4 2.0* 25.68 21.05* -18

Food preparation and serving related

8.0 9.0* 14.16 11.85* -16

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

2.9 3.6* 16.23 13.62* -16

Personal care and service

1.8 1.7* 16.17 14.19* -12

Sales and related

9.4 8.9* 22.15 18.36* -17

Office and administrative support

13.0 14.8* 20.88 18.69* -10

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 16.70 16.59 -1

Construction and extraction

4.2 4.3* 26.87 22.62* -16

Installation, maintenance, and repair

4.0 4.0 25.66 23.13* -10


6.0 7.3* 20.71 19.75* -5

Transportation and material moving

9.0 9.3* 19.88 17.93* -10

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area is above the national mean wage, while a negative difference reflects a lower wage.
* The mean hourly wage or percent share of employment is significantly different from the national average of all areas at the 90-percent confidence level.

One occupational group—office and administrative support—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Knoxville had 56,860 jobs in office and administrative support, accounting for 14.8 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 13.0-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $18.69, significantly below the national wage of $20.88.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the office and administrative support group included customer service representatives (9,430), general office clerks (7,530), and first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers (6,510). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants and first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers, with mean hourly wages of $28.43 and $27.74, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks ($11.46). (Detailed data for the office and administrative support occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available, go to

Location quotients allow us to explore the occupational make-up of a metropolitan area by comparing the composition of jobs in an area relative to the national average. (See table 1.) For example, a location quotient of 2.0 indicates that an occupation accounts for twice the share of employment in the area than it does nationally. In the Knoxville area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in some of the occupations within the office and administrative support group. For instance, insurance claims and policy processing clerks were employed at 1.7 times the national rate in Knoxville, and file clerks, at 1.6 times the U.S. average. Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks had a location quotient of 1.0 in Knoxville, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.

These statistics are from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Changes to the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Data

With the May 2021 estimates release, the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program has implemented a new model-based (MB3) estimation method. For more information, see the May 2021 Survey Methods and Reliability Statement at and the Monthly Labor Review article at OEWS estimates for the years 2015-19 were recalculated using the new estimation method and are available as research estimates at

The May 2021 OEWS estimates are also the first estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. To improve data quality, the OEWS program aggregates some occupations to the SOC broad occupation level or as OEWS-specific combinations of 2018 SOC detailed occupations.

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey is a semiannual survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. 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. OEWS data are available at

The OEWS survey is a cooperative effort between BLS and the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS funds the survey and provides the procedures and technical support, while the State Workforce Agencies collect most of the data. OEWS estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. 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. Responses are obtained by Internet or other electronic means, mail, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2021 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2021, November 2020, May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, and November 2018. The unweighted sampled employment of 82 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 62 percent of total national employment. The overall national response rate for the six panels, based on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is 67.2 percent based on establishments and 64.5 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,877 establishments with a response rate of 63 percent. For more information about OEWS concepts and methodology, go to

A value that is statistically different from another does not necessarily mean that the difference has economic or practical significance. Statistical significance is concerned with the ability to make confident statements about a universe based on a sample. It is entirely possible that a large difference between two values is not significantly different statistically, while a small difference is, since both the size and heterogeneity of the sample affect the relative error of the data being tested.

Metropolitan area definitions

The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

The Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Anderson County, Blount County, Campbell County, Grainger County, Knox County, Loudon County, Morgan County, Roane County, and Union County.

For more information

Answers to frequently asked questions about the OEWS data are available at Detailed information about the OEWS program is available at

Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.

Table 1. Employment and wage data for office and administrative support occupations, Knoxville metropolitan area, May 2021
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Office and administrative support occupations

56,860 1.1 $18.69 $38,880

First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers

6,510 1.7 27.74 57,710

Switchboard operators, including answering service

140 1.1 13.01 27,070

Bill and account collectors

680 1.2 16.89 35,120

Billing and posting clerks

1,330 1.1 17.94 37,310

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

5,660 1.4 19.37 40,290

Payroll and timekeeping clerks

380 0.9 18.92 39,360

Procurement clerks

270 1.6 21.11 43,920


1,290 1.3 14.85 30,890

Financial clerks, all other

100 1.3 17.19 35,760

Brokerage clerks

60 0.5 24.47 50,900

Court, municipal, and license clerks

510 1.3 19.89 41,360

Credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks

70 1.6 18.20 37,850

Customer service representatives

9,430 1.2 16.06 33,410

Eligibility interviewers, government programs

200 0.5 17.64 36,680

File clerks

370 1.6 16.27 33,850

Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks

610 1.0 11.46 23,840

Interviewers, except eligibility and loan

530 1.2 15.21 31,630

Library assistants, clerical

230 1.1 14.71 30,610

Loan interviewers and clerks

630 1.0 19.02 39,550

New accounts clerks

100 0.9 17.94 37,320

Order clerks

270 0.7 15.53 32,300

Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

280 1.0 19.78 41,140

Receptionists and information clerks

2,260 0.8 14.12 29,370

Information and record clerks, all other

390 0.9 22.72 47,260

Cargo and freight agents

150 0.7 18.50 38,470

Couriers and messengers

180 1.0 13.63 28,360

Public safety telecommunicators

210 0.8 19.67 40,920

Dispatchers, except police, fire, and ambulance

400 0.8 19.32 40,190

Meter readers, utilities

50 0.8 22.31 46,410

Postal service clerks

160 0.7 26.63 55,380

Postal service mail carriers

900 1.0 26.50 55,120

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators

490 1.6 23.92 49,740

Production, planning, and expediting clerks

1,350 1.4 23.98 49,880

Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks

2,080 1.0 17.13 35,630

Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping

60 0.4 18.10 37,650

Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants

520 0.4 28.43 59,130

Legal secretaries and administrative assistants

420 1.0 19.83 41,240

Medical secretaries and administrative assistants

2,380 1.3 15.86 33,000

Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive

5,310 1.1 18.18 37,820

Data entry keyers

470 1.2 16.90 35,150

Word processors and typists

50 0.4 16.11 33,510

Insurance claims and policy processing clerks

1,030 1.7 17.47 36,340

Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service

60 0.3 14.20 29,540

Office clerks, general

7,530 1.1 15.92 33,110

Office machine operators, except computer

60 0.7 16.66 34,660

Statistical assistants

110 6.4 21.29 44,290

Office and administrative support workers, all other

410 1.0 15.63 32,500

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Knoxville, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations may not sum to the totals due to rounding, and because the totals may include occupations that are not shown separately. Estimates do not include self-employed workers.
(3) The location quotient is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average, and a location quotient less than one indicates the occupation is less prevalent in the area than average.
(4) Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a 'year-round, full-time' hours figure of 2,080 hours; for those occupations where there is not an hourly mean wage published, the annual wage has been directly calculated from the reported survey data.


Last Modified Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2022