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Labor Market Information Center
Occupational Wages - Technical Notes
The occupational wage data contained on this website were collected through the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, conducted by the Labor Market Information Center in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The OEWS wage survey is based on a three-year data collection cycle; surveys are sent twice a year to capture data for second quarter and fourth quarter reference periods. Survey recipients are scientifically selected based on business activity, geographic location and worker levels. Over the three-year survey cycle, approximately 6,700 establishments are contacted. For the most current survey year (2018), approximately 2,100 surveys were sent to establishments in South Dakota. More than 1,700 of the establishments responded, resulting in an 82 percent response rate. Those establishments responding accounted for 91 percent of the workers in the sample. BLS requires a 75 percent response for the OEWS program.
The website contains combined data from the entire three-year survey cycle. Estimates produced using only one year of sample data would be subject to a higher sampling error (due to the smaller sample size). Estimates based on more than one year of data provide significant sampling error reductions (particularly for small geographic areas and occupations), and the multiple years of data allow for the production of estimates at finer levels of geographic and occupational detail.
The use of multiple years of sample data to produce wage estimates requires the adjustment of wage data from previous reference periods — a procedure referred to as "wage updating." The OEWS program applies the percentage change of wage and salary components of the Employment Cost Index (ECI) to previous reference period survey data to reflect current wage levels. The ECI is produced by the BLS and measures the change over time in the compensation costs of employers.
Published occupational statistics include the estimated number of workers, average wage and percentile wage data. Data is published only if confidentiality and statistical reliability criteria are met. Per federal regulations under the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA), LMIC cannot provide data if there is a risk of employer identification. Wage data is initially viewed in the database as hourly rates, although an option is available to display the annual rates as well. Please note that hourly data is not available for some occupations, such as teachers. Workers in these occupations generally do not work the norm of 2,080 hours per year, and pay is usually based on an annual amount. Therefore, wages for these occupations are available only as annual salaries.
For certain entertainment occupations, only hourly wage data is available. There is a wide variation in the number of hours worked by those employed as actors, dancers, musicians and singers. Many jobs are for a duration of one day or one week and it is extremely rare for a performer to have guaranteed employment for a period that exceeds three to six months.
Mean/Average Wage: represents the arithmetic mean of the wage data collected, calculated by dividing the estimated total wages for an occupation by the number of workers in that occupation. The mean wage is also referred to as the average wage.
Percentile Wages: represents the percentage of an occupation's workers who earn less than or equal to that wage. For certain occupations, the upper percentile wages may not be available because of disclosure concerns or reliability issues. The following percentile wages represent distinct measures of the entire wage range:
10th Percentile: 10% earn less than or equal to this amount; 90% earn more
25th Percentile: 25% earn less than or equal to this amount; 75% earn more
50th Percentile: 50% earn less than or equal to this amount; 50% earn more (median wage)
75th Percentile: 75% earn less than or equal to this amount; 25% earn more
90th Percentile: 90% earn less than or equal to this amount; 10% earn more
Employment: represents an estimate of the total wage and salary workers employed in an occupation across all industries. For certain occupations, the number of workers statistic may not be available because of disclosure concerns or reliability issues.
Wages for the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey are straight-time, gross pay, exclusive of premium pay. Base rate, cost-of-living allowances, guaranteed pay, hazardous-duty pay, incentive pay including commissions and production bonuses, and tips are included. Excluded are overtime pay, severance pay, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses, employer cost for supplementary benefits, and tuition reimbursements.
Differences Between South Dakota Data Published on this Website and South Dakota Data Published on BLS website
The BLS does not publish state occupational wage data on their website if the unrounded employment level in the occupation is less than 30. Since South Dakota is a small state and we make every attempt to publish wage data for as many occupations as possible, we publish data within our virtual labor market data system for small occupations (with unrounded employment less than 30) as long as the data meets data quality standards and confidentiality safeguards.
For more technical information on the OEWS program, please see the technical notes posted on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Their Frequently Asked Questions about the program may also be of interest.