Jobs in Deschutes County pay below U.S. average

Bend-metro BLS data looks at which jobs pay more, less

SAN FRANCISCO - Workers in Deschutes County (the Bend metro area) had an average hourly wage of $19.78 an hour as of May 2012, about 10 percent below the nationwide average of $22.01, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted that, after testing for statistical significance, average (mean) wages in the local area were significantly higher than their respective national averages in five of the 22 major occupational groups, including healthcare practitioners and technical, healthcare support, and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance.

Twelve groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including management, legal, and computer and mathematical.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, local employment was more highly concentrated in seven of the 22 occupational groups, including food preparation and serving related, sales and related, and personal care and service.

Conversely, eight groups had employment shares significantly below their national representation, including production, business and financial operations, and computer and mathematical.

One occupational group — personal care and service — was chosen to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories.

The Bend area had 2,630 jobs in personal care and service, accounting for 4.4 percent of local area employment, significantly higher than the 2.9-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $11.66, compared to the national wage of $11.80.

With employment of 820, personal care aides was the largest occupation within the personal care and service group, followed by recreation workers (340) and fitness trainers and aerobics instructors (230).

Among the higher-paying jobs were fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, and first-line supervisors of personal service workers, with mean hourly wages of $19.04 and $14.29, respectively.

At the lower end of the wage scale were amusement and recreation attendants ($9.43) and tour guides and escorts ($10.17). 

Location quotients allow the BLS to explore the occupational make-up of a metropolitan area by comparing the composition of jobs in an area relative to the national average.

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 Bend Metropolitan Statistical Area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in many of the occupations within the personal care and service group.

For instance, recreation workers were employed at 2.4 times the national rate in Bend, and fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, at 2.2 times the U.S. average.

On the other hand, childcare workers had a location quotient of 0.7 in Bend, 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 Oregon Employment Department.

With the release of the May 2012 estimates, OES data are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system for the first time. The OES survey provides estimates of employment and hourly and annual wages for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups and more than 800 detailed occupations for the nation, states, metropolitan statistical areas, metropolitan divisions, and nonmetropolitan areas.

In addition, employment and wage estimates for 94 minor groups and 458 broad occupations are available in the national data for the first time. Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at

The May 2012 OES estimates are the first to be produced using the 2012 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2012 NAICS is available on the BLS website at OES wage and employment data for the 22 major occupational groups in the Bend Metropolitan Statistical Area were compared to their respective national averages based on statistical significance testing.

Only those occupations with wages or employment shares above or below the national wage or share after testing for significance at the 90-percent confidence level meet the criteria.

NOTE: 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.

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