- Buyer's Guide
Retail salespersons, cashiers, general office clerks, combined food preparation and serving workers, and registered nurses were among the occupations with the highest U.S. employment in 2007, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest-paying occupations included physician specialists, dentist specialists and chief executives, while dishwashers, fast food cooks, and combined food preparation and serving workers were among the lowest-paying occupations. Employment and wage information for all occupations is shown in Table 1 (see the link below).
These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, which provides employment and wage estimates for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and 801 detailed occupations. OES produces data by occupation for the nation, states, metropolitan areas, metropolitan divisions, and non-metropolitan areas, and by occupation and industry for the nation. Data is available on the OES homepage at http://www.bls.gov/oes/.
OES data can be used to compare wages and employment for different occupations, or to compare wages and employment for a given occupation across industries. For example, the largest occupational group was office and administrative support occupations, with employment of more than 23 million. Occupations within this group ranged in size from general office clerks and customer service representatives, with employment of nearly 3 million and 2.2 million, respectively, to smaller occupations such as communications equipment operators, all other (3,830); correspondence clerks (15,550); and proofreaders and copy markers (15,650). The office and administrative support group’s high employment reflects, in part, its wide distribution across industries. The largest employers of office and administrative support occupations included the finance and insurance, health care and social assistance, and retail trade sectors, but no single sector employed more than 13 percent of this group.
Mean hourly wages for the office and administrative support group ranged from $18.83 in the utilities sector to $11.60 in accommodation and food services. Among the highest-paying occupations in the office and administrative support group were first-line supervisors and managers of office and administrative support workers, with a mean hourly wage of $22.89; postal service clerks ($21.29); postal service mail carriers ($21.17); and production, planning and expediting clerks ($19.74). Hotel, motel and resort desk clerks ($9.66); stock clerks and order fillers ($10.93); and tellers ($11.36) were among the lowest paid occupations in the group.
OES data also can be used to make comparisons across geographical areas. For instance, loan interviewers and clerks earned a mean hourly wage of $22.65 in Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., as compared to $9.79 in Alexandria, La. Employment of loan interviewers and clerks was similar in both areas: 130 in Santa Cruz-Watsonville and 110 in Alexandria.
Major Occupational Group Employment and Wages by Industry Sector
After office and administrative support occupations, sales and related occupations was the largest occupational group, with employment of more than 14 million. Food preparation and serving related occupations, production occupations, and transportation and material moving occupations also were among the largest occupational groups. While some occupational groups were highly concentrated in specific industry sectors, others were widely distributed across sectors. For example, nearly 89 percent of employment in education, training and library occupations was found in the educational services sector, and more than 87 percent of employment in healthcare support occupations was found in the health care and social assistance sector. In contrast, management occupations; business and financial operations occupations; and installation, maintenance and repair occupations were more evenly distributed across sectors. (See Table 2.)
Management was the highest-paying occupational group, with a mean hourly wage of $46.22, followed by legal occupations at $42.53. Food preparation and serving related occupations; farming, fishing, and forestry occupations;
and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations were among the lowest-paying occupational groups.
Utilities; management of companies and enterprises; finance and insurance; information; and professional, scientific and technical services were among the highest-paying sectors for several occupational groups. Accommodation and
food services; retail trade; and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting were among the lowest-paying sectors. For example, mean hourly wages for business and financial operations occupations ranged from $34.27 in professional,
scientific and technical services to $21.84 in accommodation and food services, while wages for sales and related occupations ranged from $32.40 in finance and insurance to $9.54 in accommodation and food services.
Occupational Wages by State and Area
OES data also allows comparison of occupational employment and wages across states and metropolitan areas. Tables 6 and 7 show the highest- and lowest-paying states and metropolitan areas for selected detailed occupations. For
example, state mean hourly wages for financial managers ranged from $66.20 in New York to $32.02 in West Virginia, while wages for construction laborers ranged from $21.48 in Alaska to $10.38 in Texas.
California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York were among the highest-paying states for two of the four selected occupations. Although significantly smaller in terms of employment than the states listed above, Alaska also was among the highest-paying states for three of the selected occupations, and Hawaii was among the highest-paying states for two. West Virginia was among the lowest-paying states for three of the four selected occupations, while Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming were among the lowest-paying states for two of the four occupations. Although in general the lowest-paying states did not have large employment of the selected occupations, one notable exception is Texas, where nearly 120,000 construction laborers were employed, but which also was one of the lowest paying states for this occupation.
At the metropolitan area level, mean hourly wages for the selected occupations were about twice as much in the highest-paying areas as in the lowest-paying areas. For example, wages for financial managers ranged from $68.22 in
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa., to $27.18 in Pocatello, Idaho, while wages for construction laborers ranged from $23.91 in Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner, Mass., to $8.23 in Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas. Metropolitan areas in California appeared several times among the highest-paying areas for the selected occupations; Anchorage, Alaska, and New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa., also were among the highest-paying areas for two of the four occupations. Several of the lowest paying areas for construction laborers were located in Texas, while metropolitan areas in Idaho were among the lowest-paying areas for both financial managers and loan officers. Outside of these two states, many of the remaining lower-paying areas for the selected occupations were located in the South.
Read the full report and view all of the data tables by clicking on the link below: