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News Release Information

Friday, June 17, 2022

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Occupational Employment and Wages in Durham-Chapel Hill — May 2021

Workers in the Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $33.03 in May 2021, about 18 percent above 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 higher than their respective national averages in 11 of the 22 major occupational groups, including educational instruction and library, sales and related, and management. Six groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including construction and extraction, healthcare practitioners and technical, and transportation and material moving.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, Durham area employment was more highly concentrated in 6 of the 22 occupational groups, including healthcare practitioners and technical, computer and mathematical, and educational instruction and library. Fourteen groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including transportation and material moving, production, and office and administrative support. (See table A.)

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

Total, all occupations

100.0 100.0 $28.01 $33.03* 18


6.3 7.6* 59.31 67.03* 13

Business and financial operations

6.4 8.0* 39.72 43.15* 9

Computer and mathematical

3.3 7.0* 48.01 51.48* 7

Architecture and engineering

1.7 1.8 44.10 43.44 -1

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 3.1* 38.81 40.74* 5

Community and social service

1.6 1.2* 25.94 26.30 1


0.8 0.7* 54.38 52.70 -3

Educational instruction and library

5.8 9.0* 29.88 37.21* 25

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.3 1.3 31.78 34.29* 8

Healthcare practitioners and technical

6.2 11.7* 43.80 38.90* -11

Healthcare support

4.7 4.0* 16.02 16.29* 2

Protective service

2.4 1.7* 25.68 23.52* -8

Food preparation and serving related

8.0 6.0* 14.16 13.20* -7

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

2.9 2.6* 16.23 15.95* -2

Personal care and service

1.8 1.2* 16.17 17.00* 5

Sales and related

9.4 7.6* 22.15 25.70* 16

Office and administrative support

13.0 10.9* 20.88 21.29* 2

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.1* 16.70 17.96* 8

Construction and extraction

4.2 2.3* 26.87 23.08* -14

Installation, maintenance, and repair

4.0 2.8* 25.66 25.61 0


6.0 3.6* 20.71 20.81 0

Transportation and material moving

9.0 5.8* 19.88 18.19* -9

(1) A positive percent difference measures how much the mean wage in the Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 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—healthcare practitioners and technical—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Durham had 36,440 jobs in healthcare practitioners and technical, accounting for 11.7 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.2-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $38.90, significantly below the national wage of $43.80.

In addition to registered nurses (15,230), some of the larger detailed occupations within the healthcare practitioners and technical group also included clinical laboratory technologists and technicians (1,990) and pharmacy technicians (1,400). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were psychiatrists, general dentists, and general pediatricians, with mean hourly wages of $104.01, $98.85, and $97.83, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were psychiatric technicians ($17.26), pharmacy technicians ($18.30), and veterinary technologists and technicians ($18.95). (Detailed data for the healthcare practitioners and technical 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 Durham area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the healthcare practitioners and technical group. For instance, clinical laboratory technologists and technicians were employed at 2.8 times the national rate in Durham, and ophthalmic medical technicians, at 2.5 times the U.S. average. Medical records specialists had a location quotient of 1.0 in Durham, 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 North Carolina Department of Commerce.

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 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area included 2,238 establishments with a response rate of 74 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 Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Chatham County, Durham County, Orange County, and Person 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 healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, Durham metropolitan area, May 2021
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations

36,440 1.9 $38.90 $80,900

Dentists, general

250 1.0 98.85 205,620

Dietitians and nutritionists

310 2.1 29.77 61,930


40 0.4 64.68 134,530


1,180 1.7 61.83 128,600

Physician assistants

710 2.4 53.51 111,300

Occupational therapists

340 1.2 36.73 76,400

Physical therapists

740 1.5 38.24 79,540

Recreational therapists

60 1.7 (5) (5)

Speech-language pathologists

370 1.1 34.89 72,570


190 1.1 61.62 128,160

Registered nurses

15,230 2.3 35.10 73,000

Nurse midwives

40 2.1 48.42 100,710

Nurse practitioners

1,230 2.4 55.90 116,270


70 2.2 36.99 76,940

General internal medicine physicians

50 0.4 (7) (7)

Pediatricians, general

70 0.9 97.83 203,490


60 1.1 104.01 216,340

Physicians, all other

(5) (5) 55.15 114,710

Dental hygienists

550 1.2 33.73 70,170

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

1,990 2.8 26.35 54,800

Radiologic technologists and technicians

830 1.7 32.47 67,550

Emergency medical technicians

270 0.8 30.53 63,500

Pharmacy technicians

1,400 1.4 18.30 38,060

Psychiatric technicians

280 1.4 17.26 35,900

Surgical technologists

(5) (5) 23.98 49,870

Veterinary technologists and technicians

240 0.9 18.95 39,410

Ophthalmic medical technicians

360 2.5 22.69 47,190

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

990 0.7 24.90 51,800

Medical records specialists

410 1.0 23.82 49,540

Opticians, dispensing

90 0.6 24.86 51,710

Health technologists and technicians, all other

850 2.7 22.15 46,070

Health information technologists and medical registrars

100 1.2 34.95 72,690

Athletic trainers

170 3.0 (6) 51,990

Healthcare practitioners and technical workers, all other

60 0.6 29.26 60,870

(1) For a complete listing of all detailed occupations in the Durham-Chapel Hill, NC 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.
(5) Estimate not released.
(6) Wages for some occupations that do not generally work year-round, full time, are reported either as hourly wages or annual salaries depending on how they are typically paid.
(7) This wage is equal to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year.


Last Modified Date: Friday, June 17, 2022