The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program conducts a semiannual survey designed to produce estimates of employment and wages for specific occupations. The OEWS program collects data on wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in order to produce employment and wage estimates for about 830 occupations. Data from self-employed persons are not collected and are not included in the estimates. The OEWS program produces these occupational estimates for the nation as a whole, by state, by metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area, and by industry or ownership. The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces occupational employment and wage estimates for approximately 415 industry classifications at the national level. The industry classifications correspond to the sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industrial groups.
The OEWS program surveys approximately 179,000 to 187,000 establishments per panel (every six months), taking three years to fully collect the sample of 1.1 million establishments. To reduce respondent burden, the collection is on a three-year survey cycle that ensures that establishments are surveyed at most once every three years. The estimates for occupations in nonfarm establishments are based on OEWS data collected for the reference months of May and November.
The OEWS survey is a federal-state cooperative program between the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). BLS provides the procedures and technical support, draws the sample, and produces the survey materials, while the SWAs collect the data. SWAs from all fifty states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands participate in the survey. Occupational employment and wage rate estimates at the national level are produced by BLS using data from the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Employers who respond to states' requests to participate in the OEWS survey make these estimates possible.
The employment data are benchmarked to an average of the May and November employment levels. The most recent wage data are for May 2021. The OEWS survey began using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in 2002. The May 2021 OEWS estimates are based on the 2017 NAICS classification system. Data prior to 2002 are based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.
In 1999, the OEWS survey began using the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The May 2010 OEWS estimates marked the first set of estimates based, in part, on data collected for the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification system. The May 2021 OEWS estimates are the first OEWS estimates based solely on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC.
Prior to 1996, the OEWS program collected only occupational employment data for selected industries in each year of the three-year survey cycle, and produced only industry-specific estimates of occupational employment. The 1996 survey round was the first year that the OEWS program began collecting occupational employment and wage data in every state. In addition, the program's three-year survey cycle was modified to collect data from all covered industries each year. 1997 is the earliest year available for which the OEWS program produced estimates of cross-industry as well as industry-specific occupational employment and wages.
The May 2021 OEWS estimates are benchmarked to the average of the May 2021 and November 2020 reference periods. May 2021 employment and wage estimates are based on all data collected from establishments in the May 2021, November 2020, May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, and November 2018 semiannual samples. Wages for the current panel, May 2021, need no adjustment. However, wages in the five previous panels have been adjusted to the May 2021 reference period by using the over-the-year wage changes in the most applicable national Employment Cost Index series. For additional information, see the Technical Notes for May 2021 OEWS Estimates.
Last Modified Date: April 6, 2022