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News Release Information

Monday, June 01, 2020


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Occupational Employment and Wages in Fort Smith — May 2019

Workers in the Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $19.09 in May 2019, about 26 percent below the nationwide average of $25.72, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Acting Regional Commissioner Michael Hirniak noted that, after testing for statistical significance, 21 of the 22 major occupational groups had average wages in the local area that were significantly lower than their respective national averages, including legal, management, and protective service. No local group had wages that were significantly above their respective national average.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, Fort Smith area employment was more highly concentrated in 3 of the 22 occupational groups: production, sales and related, and installation, maintenance, and repair. Eleven groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including business and financial operations, computer and mathematical, and office and administrative support. (See table A and box note at end of release.)

Table A. Occupational employment and wages by major occupational group, United States and the Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area, and measures of statistical significance, May 2019
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 $25.72 $19.09* -26


5.5 5.2 58.88 40.10* -32

Business and financial operations

5.6 3.4* 37.56 28.66* -24

Computer and mathematical

3.1 1.1* 45.08 32.84* -27

Architecture and engineering

1.8 0.9* 42.69 36.55* -14

Life, physical, and social science

0.9 0.3* 37.28 25.87* -31

Community and social service

1.5 1.4 24.27 19.24* -21


0.8 0.4* 52.71 27.54* -48

Educational instruction and library

6.1 7.0 27.75 19.88* -28

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

1.4 0.4* 29.79 19.93* -33

Healthcare practitioners and technical

5.9 6.3 40.21 33.15* -18

Healthcare support

4.4 4.8 14.91 12.34* -17

Protective service

2.4 1.9* 23.98 16.98* -29

Food preparation and serving related

9.2 9.1 12.82 10.38* -19

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

3.0 2.4* 15.03 12.24* -19

Personal care and service

2.2 1.4* 15.03 11.75* -22

Sales and related

9.8 10.7* 20.70 16.25* -21

Office and administrative support

13.3 12.4* 19.73 16.20* -18

Farming, fishing, and forestry

0.3 0.3 15.07 14.00* -7

Construction and extraction

4.2 3.8* 25.28 18.55* -27

Installation, maintenance, and repair

3.9 4.8* 24.10 19.84* -18


6.2 11.0* 19.30 15.21* -21

Transportation and material moving

8.5 11.0 18.23 17.37 -5

(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 11,790 jobs in production, accounting for 11.0 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 6.2-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $15.21, significantly below the national wage of $19.30.

Some of the larger detailed occupations within the production group included meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers (1,860), first-line supervisors of production and operating workers (930), and packaging and filling machine operators and tenders (840). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were first-line supervisors of production and operating workers and printing press operators, with mean hourly wages of $23.78 and $19.98, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were laundry and dry-cleaning workers ($10.23) and meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers ($11.95). (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 16.6 times the national rate in Fort Smith, and paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders, at 3.9 times the U.S. average. Fort Smith’s location quotient for meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers was among the highest in all the published metropolitan areas nationwide for this particular occupation. Laundry and dry-cleaning workers had a location quotient of 1.1 in Fort Smith, 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 Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

Changes to the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Data

With the May 2019 estimates, the OES program has begun implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Each set of OES estimates is calculated from six panels of survey data collected over three years. Because the May 2019 estimates are based on a combination of survey data collected using the 2010 SOC and survey data collected using the 2018 SOC, these estimates use a hybrid of the two classification systems that contains some combinations of occupations that are not found in either the 2010 or 2018 SOC. These combinations may include occupations from more than one 2018 SOC minor group or broad occupation. Therefore, OES will not publish data for some 2018 SOC minor groups and broad occupations in the May 2019 estimates. The May 2021 estimates, to be published in Spring 2022, will be the first OES estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC.

In addition, the OES program has replaced some 2018 SOC detailed occupations with SOC broad occupations or OES-specific aggregations. These include home health aides and personal care aides, for which OES will publish only the 2018 SOC broad occupation 31-1120 Home Health and Personal Care Aides.

For more information on the occupational classification system used in the May 2019 OES estimates, please see and

The May 2019 OES estimates use the metropolitan area definitions delineated in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin 17-01, which add a new Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for Twin Falls, Idaho. For more information on the area definitions used in the May 2019 estimates, please see

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OES 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. OES data are available at

The OES 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. OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.1 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 180,000 to 200,000 sampled establishments are contacted, one panel in May and the other in November. Responses are obtained by mail, Internet or other electronic means, email, telephone, or personal visit. The May 2019 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, November 2017, May 2017, and November 2016. The unweighted sample employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 57 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 71 percent based on establishments and 68 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area included 1,630 establishments with a response rate of 79 percent. For more information about OES 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.

The May 2019 OES estimates are the first set of OES estimates to be based in part on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC. These estimates use a hybrid of the 2010 and 2018 SOC systems. More information on the hybrid classification system is available at

The May 2019 OES estimates are based on the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). More information about the 2017 NAICS is available at

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 Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Crawford and Sebastian Counties in Arkansas, and Le Flore and Sequoyah Counties in Oklahoma.

For more information

Answers to frequently asked questions about the OES data are available at Detailed information about the OES program is available 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 for production occupations, Fort Smith, AR-OK Metropolitan Statistical Area, May 2019
Occupation (1) Employment Mean wages
Level (2) Location quotient (3) Hourly Annual (4)

Production occupations

11,790 1.8 $15.21 $31,640

First-line supervisors of production and operating workers

930 2.0 23.78 49,470

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

310 1.5 15.32 31,870

Structural metal fabricators and fitters

50 1.0 15.64 32,520

Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators

770 0.8 12.95 26,940


130 1.0 11.71 24,360

Butchers and meat cutters

60 0.6 13.94 28,990

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers

1,860 16.6 11.95 24,860

Slaughterers and meat packers

(5) (5) 13.15 27,340

Food batchmakers

180 1.5 13.12 27,290

Food processing workers, all other

(5) (5) 11.93 24,810

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

(5) (5) 13.66 28,410

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

100 0.7 15.43 32,080


180 0.6 18.95 39,430

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

410 1.4 19.15 39,820

Prepress technicians and workers

30 1.6 21.32 44,350

Printing press operators

270 2.1 19.98 41,560

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

160 1.1 10.23 21,280

Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials

40 1.5 11.09 23,070

Sewing machine operators

150 1.5 12.52 26,040

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters

70 1.0 14.96 31,110

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing

80 1.3 14.15 29,430

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators

250 2.8 16.67 34,660

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

40 1.6 16.26 33,820

Mixing and blending machine setters, operators, and tenders

50 0.5 15.57 32,380

Cutting and slicing machine setters, operators, and tenders

150 3.6 16.88 35,110

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

200 3.8 16.15 33,590

Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

610 1.5 14.74 30,670

Ophthalmic laboratory technicians

40 1.8 12.96 26,960

Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders

840 3.0 16.17 33,640

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

150 1.4 16.01 33,300

Cleaning, washing, and metal pickling equipment operators and tenders

150 12.2 12.56 26,130

Cooling and freezing equipment operators and tenders

(5) (5) 15.37 31,980

Molders, shapers, and casters, except metal and plastic

30 1.0 14.05 29,220

Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders

280 3.9 16.41 34,140

Helpers--production workers

410 1.9 14.02 29,170

Production workers, all other

180 1.1 12.42 25,840

(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.
(5) Estimate not released.


Last Modified Date: Monday, June 01, 2020