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Thursday, April 30, 2015


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Bellingham, May 2014

Workers in the Bellingham Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $21.65 in May 2014, about 5 percent below the nationwide average of $22.71, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were higher than their respective national averages in 10 of the 22 major occupational groups, including protective service; healthcare practitioners and technical; and healthcare support. Seven groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including legal; management; and arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including food preparation and serving related; construction and extraction; and production. Conversely, six groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including office and administrative support; computer and mathematical; and business and financial operations. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Bellingham Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2014
Major occupational group Percent of total employment Mean hourly wage
United States Bellingham United States Bellingham Percent difference (1)

Total, all occupations

100.0% 100.0% $22.71 $21.65* -5


5.0 4.1* 54.08 47.06* -13

Business and financial operations

5.1 4.1* 34.81 30.37* -13

Computer and mathematical

2.8 1.6* 40.37 34.58* -14

Architecture and engineering

1.8 1.6 39.19 40.63 4

Life, physical, and social science

0.8 0.7 33.69 31.53* -6

Community and social services

1.4 1.7 21.79 20.97 -4


0.8 0.4* 48.61 36.76* -24

Education, training, and library

6.2 6.7 25.10 24.13 -4

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.5 26.82 19.97* -26

Healthcare practitioner and technical

5.8 4.9 36.54 39.53* 8

Healthcare support

2.9 2.6 13.86 16.52* 19

Protective service

2.4 2.1* 21.14 29.52* 40

Food preparation and serving related

9.1 10.8* 10.57 12.11* 15

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.2 3.7* 12.68 13.84* 9

Personal care and service

3.1 2.8 12.01 12.68* 6

Sales and related

10.5 11.8* 18.59 16.49* -11

Office and administrative support

16.0 14.4* 17.08 17.28 1

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.5* 12.09 17.86* 48

Construction and extraction

3.9 5.6* 22.40 24.82* 11

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 3.9 21.74 24.32* 12


6.6 8.0* 17.06 18.80* 10

Transportation and material moving

6.8 6.4 16.57 16.45 -1

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

One occupational group—construction and extraction—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Bellingham had 4,470 jobs in construction and extraction, accounting for 5.6 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 3.9-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $24.82, significantly above the national wage of $22.40.

Some of the largest detailed occupations within the construction and extraction group included construction laborers (790), carpenters (780), and electricians (430). Among the higher paying jobs were electricians, and operating engineers and other construction equipment operators, with mean hourly wages of $31.40 and $30.67, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were construction and maintenance painters ($17.29) and sheet metal workers ($18.50). (Detailed occupational data for construction and extraction 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 Bellingham Metropolitan Statistical Area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the construction and extraction group. For instance, construction and maintenance painters were employed at 2.2 times the national rate in Bellingham, and carpenters, at 2.1 times the U.S. average. On the other hand, first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers had a location quotient of 1.2 in Bellingham, indicating that this particular occupation’s local and national employment shares were similar.

These statistics are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between BLS and State Workforce Agencies, in this case, the Washington Employment Security Department.


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.

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual mail survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are also surveyed, but their data are not included in the national estimates. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Forms are mailed to approximately 200,000 sampled establishments in May and November each year. May 2014 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2014, November 2013, May 2013, November 2012, May 2012, and November 2011. The overall national response rate for the six panels is 74.3 percent based on establishments and 70.5 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The unweighted employment of sampled establishments across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 57.1 percent of total national employment. (Response rates are slightly lower for these estimates due to the federal shutdown in October 2013.) The sample in the Bellingham Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,429 establishments with a response rate of 76 percent. For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

The OES survey provides estimates of employment and hourly and annual wages for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and 821 detailed occupations for the nation, states, metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan divisions, and nonmetropolitan areas. In addition, employment and wage estimates for 94 minor groups and 458 broad occupations are available in the national data. OES data by state and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan area are available from and, respectively.

The May 2014 OES estimates are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at and information about the 2012 NAICS is available at

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 Bellingham, Wash. Metropolitan Statistical Area  includes Whatcom County.

Additional information

OES data are available on our regional web page at Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in our Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request . Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 800-877-8339.

Table 1. Employment and wage data from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey, by occupation, Bellingham Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2014
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Construction and Extraction Occupations

4,470 1.4 $24.82 $51,620

First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers

360 1.2 30.46 63,350


780 2.1 24.30 50,540

Carpet Installers

40 2.8 (5) (5)

Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers

140 1.5 25.17 52,350

Construction Laborers

790 1.6 20.31 42,250

Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators

390 1.9 30.67 63,780

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers

80 1.5 26.66 55,460


80 7.7 23.66 49,210


430 1.3 31.40 65,320

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

260 2.2 17.29 35,970


30 1.3 29.72 61,820

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

290 1.3 29.24 60,820


160 2.7 22.91 47,650

Sheet Metal Workers

(5) (5) 18.50 38,490

Construction and Building Inspectors

80 1.6 26.99 56,140

Highway Maintenance Workers

100 1.2 23.77 49,440

Construction and Related Workers, All Other

(5) (5) 14.40 29,950

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in Bellingham, WA, see
(2) Estimates for detailed occupations do not sum to the totals because the totals include occupations 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.
(5) Estimate not released.


Last Modified Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015