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Occupational Wage Data Are Not a Continual Time Series (Continued)

  Designed as Point-in-Time Estimates
  The Methodology Itself Affects the Comparability of Estimates
  Procedural Changes
  Other Changes
The Methodology Itself Affects the Comparability of Estimates

When preparing wage estimates, employer surveys are pooled from the last three years.  The weights assigned to each observation are adjusted and then the estimates are benchmarked to a recent count of employment by size of establishment, industry, and area.  This recent count is established from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages file, also called the ES-202.  The full three-year sample allows the production of estimates at fine levels of geographic, industry, and occupational detail.  Because the observations cover a three-year period, it is less likely to capture year-to-year changes.

A second methodological issue is that the survey updates wage data for all but the recent data collection period using the change in the BLS Employment Cost Index (ECI) at the national level.  In California, the OES wage estimates are updated using the latest quarter ECI available prior to publication.

Most recently, OES implemented another change in method that could influence wage estimates.  In previous surveys, workers who reported their wages to be in the highest wage interval had their wage set at the lowest wage in that range. This wage was used when calculating the mean or percentile wage estimates.  So a dentist who makes $90 an hour would be in the top wage range of $80.00 or more and would have been assigned a wage of $80.00.  OES now sets the wage for the highest interval at the mean wage that workers in that interval would be expected to make.  This mean wage is estimated from data collected by the National Compensation Survey.  This method has been used since the release of the 2002 estimates.

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