Workers in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $29.74 in May 2020, 10 percent above the nationwide average of $27.07, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Chris Rosenlund noted that, after testing for statistical significance, wages in the local area were higher than their respective national averages in 15 of the 22 major occupational groups, including healthcare practitioners and technical, educational instruction and library, and construction and extraction. Three groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages: legal, management, and architecture and engineering.
When compared to the nationwide distribution, Portland area employment was more highly concentrated in 10 of the 22 occupational groups, including architecture and engineering, management, and business and financial operations. Nine groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including healthcare support, healthcare practitioners and technical, and office and administrative support. (See table A.)
|Major occupational group||Percent of total employment||Mean hourly wage|
|United States||Portland||United States||Portland||Percent difference (1)|
Total, all occupations
Business and financial operations
Computer and mathematical
Architecture and engineering
Life, physical, and social science
Community and social service
Educational instruction and library
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media
Healthcare practitioners and technical
Food preparation and serving related
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance
Personal care and service
Sales and related
Office and administrative support
Farming, fishing, and forestry
Construction and extraction
Installation, maintenance, and repair
Transportation and material moving
One occupational group—architecture and engineering—was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. Portland had 36,020 jobs in architecture and engineering, accounting for 3.2 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 1.8-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $41.78, significantly below the national wage of $43.41.
Some of the larger detailed occupations within the architecture and engineering group included electronics engineers, except computer (4,780), industrial engineers (4,170), and civil engineers (3,640). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were aerospace engineers and computer hardware engineers, with mean hourly wages of $56.85 and $56.36, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were mechanical engineering technologists and technicians ($26.03) and surveying and mapping technicians ($27.73). (Detailed data for the architecture and engineering occupations are presented in table 1; for a complete listing of detailed occupations available go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_38900.htm.)
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 Portland area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the architecture and engineering group. For instance, electronics engineers, except computer were employed at 4.8 times the national rate in Portland, and electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians, at 2.7 times the U.S. average. Architectural and civil drafters had a location quotient of 1.2 in Portland, 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 Oregon Employment Department and Washington Employment Security Department.
Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) Name Change
The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program has changed its name to Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) to better reflect the range of data available from the program. Data released on or after March 31, 2021, will reflect the new program name. Webpages, publications, and other materials associated with previous data releases will retain the Occupational Employment Statistics name.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics
Due to features of the OEWS methodology, the May 2020 OEWS estimates do not fully reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The May 2020 OEWS estimates are based on survey panels collected for May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, and November 2017. Because 5 of the 6 survey panels used to produce the estimates date from before the COVID-19 pandemic, only the most recent (May 2020) survey panel reflects changes in occupational proportions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The May 2020 OEWS employment estimates are benchmarked to the average of May 2020 and November 2019 employment from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Although the May 2020 QCEW data reflect the early employment effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the November 2019 QCEW employment data precede the pandemic, and therefore do not reflect its impact.
In addition, as a result of the pandemic, response rates for the November 2019 and May 2020 panels were lower in some areas. Lower response rates may negatively affect data availability and data quality. More information is available at www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-occupational-employment-and-wage-statistics.htm.
Implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System
With the May 2019 estimates, the OEWS program began implementing the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Because the May 2019 and May 2020 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. This is the second and final year that the hybrid occupational structure will be used. The May 2021 estimates, to be published in Spring 2022, will be the first OEWS estimates based entirely on survey data collected using the 2018 SOC. For more information on the occupational classification system used in the May 2019 and May 2020 estimates, please see www.bls.gov/oes/soc_2018.htm and www.bls.gov/oes/oes_ques.htm#qf10.
Upcoming Changes to the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Methodology
With the May 2021 estimates, to be released in Spring 2022, the OEWS program plans to begin using a new estimation methodology. The new model-based methodology, called MB3, has advantages over the existing methodology, as described in the Monthly Labor Review article at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/article/model-based-estimates-for-the-occupational-employment-statistics-program.htm. OEWS estimates for the years 2015-2018 were recalculated using the new estimation methodology and are available as research estimates at www.bls.gov/oes/oes-mb3-methods.htm.
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 www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm.
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 180,000 to 185,000 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 2020 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2020, November 2019, May 2019, November 2018, May 2018, and November 2017. The unweighted sample employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 56 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 69 percent based on establishments and 66 percent based on weighted sampled employment. The sample in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area included 7,256 establishments with a response rate of 75 percent. For more information about OEWS concepts and methodology, go to www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tec.htm.
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 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill Counties in Oregon and Clark and Skamania Counties in Washington.
For more information
Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.
|Occupation (1)||Employment||Mean wages|
|Level (2)||Location quotient (3)||Hourly||Annual (4)|
Architecture and engineering occupations
Architects, except landscape and naval
Cartographers and photogrammetrists
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers
Computer hardware engineers
Electronics engineers, except computer
Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors
Marine engineers and naval architects
Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers
Engineers, all other
Architectural and civil drafters
Electrical and electronics drafters
Drafters, all other
Civil engineering technologists and technicians
Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians
Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians
Environmental engineering technologists and technicians
Industrial engineering technologists and technicians
Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians
Surveying and mapping technicians
Calibration technologists and technicians and engineering technologists and technicians, except drafters, all other
Last Modified Date: Thursday, June 24, 2021