Map & Data Resources | By Mike Alberti |

Jan. 17, 2014 — We’ve created two new tools to help explore the extensive wage data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The first, below, allows you to compare any three of more than 800 occupations and displays the different wage levels at five different “cut points” (10th percentile, close to the bottom of the occupation’s wage range; 25th percentile; 50th percentile, the median; 75th percentile; and 90th percentile, close to the top of the occupation’s wage range). Usage hint:  after clicking on one of the occupation dropdown boxes, typing the first letter of the occupation you are looking for will speed your search. Alternatively, you can just scroll.

Out of range

A list of those occupations that have sufficient workers earning more than $187,200 so that it is not possible given the current survey design of BLS to identify one or more percentile levels.

View table

The way that the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey works is that employers are asked to identify the pay of their employees within 12 bands. The highest band does not have an upper bound; that is, it is used for employees who are paid $187,200 or more. This means that if a large enough percentage of workers in an occupation are paid above $187,200, it is not possible to calculate one or more of the cut points. Workers could be clustered at a pay level of $200,000 or $500,000 — it’s simply impossible to tell (unless BLS were to add additional high-income bands).

So, for example, if 15 percent of employees in an occupation are paid more than $187,200, the 90th percentile will not be available.  If more than 75 percent of employees in an occupation are paid more than $187,200, then not even the 25th percentile will be able to be calculated. In other words, the more an occupation has a center of wage gravity above $187,200, the more percentile determinations are not able to be made. Click on the “Out of Range” box on the left to identify these especially high paying occupations.

Final note: Actors, dancers, “entertainers and performers, sports and related worker, all other,” and musicians and singers were all excluded because of insufficient sample size.

On the next page, we have a tool that allows you to find all occupations at or around a particular wage level.

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