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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Overview of Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual mail survey measuring occupational employment and occupational wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments, by industry. The survey samples about 37,000 establishments per year, taking 3 years to fully collect the sample of approximately 113,000 establishments in California.  The California Unemployment Insurance (UI) file provided the universe from which the OES survey drew its sample. The employment benchmark was obtained from reports submitted by employers to the UI program.  Technical notes for the OES survey from the BLS Web site.

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Classification of Occupations

The OES survey uses the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system for defining occupations. Surveys prior to 1999 used the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) classification system. The SOC structure and definitions can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics SOC Home Page.

Terms and Concepts

Employment represents the estimate of total wage and salary employment in an occupation across the industries in which it was surveyed.  In some cases, employment estimates could not be provided. These occupations are identified in the Excel files with "(3)" in the employment cells. In the Occupational Wages Data Search Tool, the employment cell will show "0".


Wages for the OES survey are straight-time, gross pay, exclusive of premium pay. The following are included in the collection of OES wage data: Base rate, Commissions, Tips, Deadheading Pay, Guaranteed Pay, Hazard Pay, Incentive Pay, Longevity Pay, Piece Rate, Portal-to-Portal Rate, Production Bonus, and Cost-of-Living Allowance. Excluded as pay: Attendance Bonus, Back Pay, Draw, Holiday bonus, Holiday Premium Pay, Jury Duty Pay, Lodging Payments, Meal Payments, Merchandise Discounts, Nonproduction Bonus, On-call Pay, Overtime Pay, Perquisites, Profit Sharing Payment, Relocation Allowance, Tuition Repayments, Severance Pay, Shift Differential, Stock Bonuses, Tool Allowance, Weekend Pay, Uniform Allowance.

The California Minimum Wage is set by the Department of Industrial Relations.

Mean Wage is the estimated total wages for an occupation divided by its weighted survey employment. The wage is provided for hourly and annual wage rates.

Most employees are paid at an hourly rate by their employers and may work less than or more than 40 hours per week.  The Mean Annual Wage is calculated by multiplying the mean hourly wage by a "year–round, full–time" hours figure of 2,080 hours per year (52 weeks by 40 hours).  Thus, the annual wage estimates may not represent the actual annual pay received by the employee.

Hourly and annual wage rates are provided for most occupations. Occupations in which workers do no generally work 2,080 hours per year have only one set of wage rates. Occupations such as teachers and pilots have only annual wage rates reported; and the occupations actors; dancers; musicians and singers; and entertainers and performers, sports and related workers, all other have only hourly wages reported. These occupations are identified in the Excel files with "(2)" in the wage cells.

Percentile is the estimated distribution of wages. For example, for the 25th Percentile Hourly Wage, 25 percent of workers in an occupation earn wages below, and 75 percent earn wages above.

Percentile Percentage
10 * 90 10
25 75 25
50 50
75 25 75
90 * 10 90
* Available in the Occupational Wages Data Search Tool

The Mean Relative Standard Error is a measure of the relative precision of the wage estimate. A low number denotes relatively high validity.

Geography Covered

Wages Starting With 2006 – 1st Quarter

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (2003 Definitions)
Five Balance of State Regions:

Wages Through 2005 – 3rd Quarter

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (1990 Definitions)
Five Balance of State Regions:

OES Employment and Wages by Occupation

Current Employment and Wages