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News Release Information

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

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Occupational Employment and Wages in Fort Smith — May 2021

Workers in the Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $20.25 in May 2021, 28 percent below the nationwide average of $28.01, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Michael Hirniak noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were lower than their respective national averages in all of the 22 major occupational groups, including legal; arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media; and computer and mathematical.   

When compared to the nationwide distribution, Fort Smith area employment was more highly concentrated in 5 of the 22 occupational groups, including production; transportation and material moving; and installation, maintenance, and repair. Fourteen groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, computer and mathematical, and architecture and engineering. (See table A.)

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

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $28.01 $20.25* -28


6.3 5.4* 59.31 40.92* -31

Business and financial operations

6.4 3.5* 39.72 28.47* -28

Computer and mathematical

3.3 0.9* 48.01 31.04* -35

Architecture and engineering

1.7 0.6* 44.10 34.03* -23

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 0.4* 38.81 30.02* -23

Community and social service

1.6 1.2* 25.94 21.18* -18


0.8 0.4* 54.38 31.85* -41

Educational instruction and library

5.8 5.4* 29.88 23.61* -21

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 0.5* 31.78 19.66* -38

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.2 6.2 43.80 34.89* -20

Healthcare support

4.7 4.8 16.02 13.25* -17

Protective service

2.4 2.3* 25.68 19.11* -26

Food preparation and serving related

8.0 8.9* 14.16 11.67* -18

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

2.9 2.5* 16.23 13.35* -18

Personal care and service

1.8 1.3* 16.17 12.97* -20

Sales and related

9.4 9.9* 22.15 16.50* -26

Office and administrative support

13.0 12.6* 20.88 17.01* -19

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.3* 16.70 15.32* -8

Construction and extraction

4.2 3.6* 26.87 19.73* -27

Installation, maintenance, and repair

4.0 4.9* 25.66 21.08* -18


6.0 12.0* 20.71 17.63* -15

Transportation and material moving

9.0 12.5* 19.88 18.00* -9

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Fort Smith, AR-OK 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—production—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Fort Smith had 12,320 jobs in production, accounting for 12.0 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.0-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $17.63, significantly below the national wage of $20.71.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the production group included meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers (2,310), miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators (1,250), and first-line supervisors of production and operating workers (940). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were first-line supervisors of production and operating workers and computer numerically controlled tool operators, with mean hourly wages of $26.72 and $22.01, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers ($12.81) and metal and plastic molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders ($15.60). (Detailed data for the production 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 Fort Smith area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the production group. For instance, meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers were employed at 24.0 times the national rate in Fort Smith, and paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders, at 5.5 times the U.S. average. Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators had a location quotient of 1.3 in Fort Smith, indicating that this particular occupation’s local employment share was higher than the national share.

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 Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, and the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

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 Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,609 establishments with a response rate of 75 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 Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Crawford County, AR; Sebastian County, AR; Le Flore County, OK; and Sequoyah County, OK.

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 production occupations, Fort Smith metropolitan area, May 2021
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Production occupations

12,320 2.0 $17.63 $36,660

First-line supervisors of production and operating workers

940 2.1 26.72 55,580

Coil winders, tapers, and finishers

170 20.9 26.67 55,470

Electrical, electronic, and electromechanical assemblers, except coil winders, tapers, and finishers

460 2.3 24.25 50,440

Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators

1,250 1.3 16.81 34,960


60 0.5 12.53 26,060

Butchers and meat cutters

70 0.7 13.84 28,800

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers

2,310 24.0 12.81 26,650

Food batchmakers

270 2.4 16.22 33,740

Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

40 1.0 17.07 35,500

Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

260 2.0 17.36 36,120

Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

30 0.6 16.40 34,120


170 0.7 20.01 41,610

Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

240 2.0 15.60 32,450

Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic

60 0.6 15.35 31,930

Tool and die makers

40 0.9 18.99 39,500

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

480 1.7 19.76 41,100

Printing press operators

200 1.9 21.11 43,900

Print binding and finishing workers

50 1.8 14.83 30,840

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

180 1.6 11.84 24,630

Sewing machine operators

110 1.3 13.73 28,560

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters

70 1.0 15.70 32,660

Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood

110 3.5 13.57 28,230

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing

110 2.2 15.01 31,220

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

160 1.8 18.05 37,550

Chemical equipment operators and tenders

50 0.6 21.06 43,810

Crushing, grinding, and polishing machine setters, operators, and tenders

60 2.6 15.77 32,810

Mixing and blending machine setters, operators, and tenders

90 1.1 18.63 38,740

Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders

170 4.2 20.78 43,220

Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders

60 1.5 15.76 32,780

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

640 1.6 17.47 36,330

Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders

660 2.5 18.71 38,920

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders

130 1.3 19.57 40,710

Computer numerically controlled tool operators

280 2.5 22.01 45,770

Cleaning, washing, and metal pickling equipment operators and tenders

110 11.1 14.42 29,990

Cooling and freezing equipment operators and tenders

30 6.0 18.70 38,890

Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders

350 5.5 17.67 36,750

Helpers--production workers

530 3.6 16.06 33,410

Production workers, all other

290 1.9 15.63 32,510

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Fort Smith, AR-OK 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: Tuesday, July 19, 2022