Regional Occupation Employment

A good estimate of occupation employment at the local geographic level is a critical piece of labor data. How is such an estimate made in JobsEQ, and what are the advantages of using these data in comparison to retrieving an occupation estimate straight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)?

According to a 2015 Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Report, almost one-half (46%) of recent college graduates were underemployed in 2014. The so-called underemployed workers are employed in an occupation below their level of qualification. For example, a graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in economics who is waiting tables or working at a retail store is considered underemployed.

Help Wanted: Applications Software Developers, Anywhere, USA

Over the past ten years, aside from registered nurses, employment gains for applications software developers have outperformed those for all other highly skilled occupations, adding more than 150,000 workers in the nation over the ten years ending with the third quarter of 2016. More than 775,000 workers were classified as applications software developers in the third quarter of 2016.

How Competitive is Your MSA?

A tortilla-manufacturing firm is in a high-growth phase of their business cycle. They are looking for an MSA to locate their expanding operations with an expected 250 employees. Where should they begin their search? What are the key attributes around their geolocation decision? Let’s start with labor availability.

According to LaborEQ, they should give the following regions a serious look:

RegionLabor Availability
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA99%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA 100%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA 100%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ MSA 97%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA99%
Source: LaborEQ

The top 3 occupations needed for a firm in this industry are:

  1.        Bakers
  2.        Food Batchmakers
  3.        Packers and Packagers, Hand

Source: JobsEQ®

Wages are another important consideration.  They are affected by the cost of living in a region. So how competitive are the MSAs where the most bakers live and work today? If we consider the wages and regional cost of living for the top 10 regions in the nation that employ the most bakers, Houston has the lowest annual average wage for bakers, $22,100 with a related cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 92.9 where the U.S. COLA equals 100. In other words, the COLA in Houston is 8% lower than the average of the nation. Home values are an important component of COLA. And for regions employing the most bakers, Houston’s home values are certainly more affordable for employees that work in tortilla manufacturing.

US Rank Region Employment Avg. Annual Wages Cost of Living Index Median House Value
1 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA 12,810 $28,000 154.5 $400,000
2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA 8,707 $25,100 153.6 $454,200
3 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA 6,982 $26,300 102.9 $217,300
4 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA 4,083 $23,800 97.4 $151,900
5 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA 3,946 $29,200 136.9 $363,600
6 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA 3,751 $22,100 92.9 $144,000
7 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA 3,740 $23,200 99.9 $167,400
8 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA 3,581 $24,300 112.3 $188,700
9 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA 3,489 $28,300 108.3 $237,600
10 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA MSA 3,229 $30,200 204.5 $592,000

To request a demo of LaborEQ, click here.

Why Railroads, Religious Organizations, and Self-Employed Are Not Included in Most Employment Estimates

The evolution of employment data collection in the United States has led to a few exceptions that can have an impact on your view of employment in a region.

To understand these missing data, a brief overview of a few employment data sources is helpful.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics with the cooperation of State Employment Security Agencies, collects employment data from nearly every employer in the nation—specifically, any employers that report to U.S. Unemployment Insurance programs. The program began in the 1930s as the ES-202 program, only adopting the QCEW name relatively recently in 2003. Due to the QCEW’s nearly comprehensive sample (about 97% of all employment), the quarterly data serve as a benchmark for other employment estimates such as the Current Employment Statistics (used in the monthly job reports often covered in the media).

This near census of employment information collected in the QCEW program is called “covered workers” and is subdivided into private, local government, state government, and federal government jobs. However, some groups are not covered:

  • Members of the armed forces
  • The self-employed
  • Proprietors
  • Domestic workers
  • Unpaid family workers
  • Railroad workers
  • Some religious organizations

Understandably, some of these non-covered workers would be difficult to track. But why are railroad workers and religious organizations not covered? Why not proprietors? It has to do with the fact that QCEW data are collected with the cooperation of state unemployment insurance agencies.

In the 1920s, the railroad industry’s private pension plans already faced a number of problems, which were then compounded by the Great Depression in the 1930s. There was a push for establishing a separate federal retirement program for railroad workers around the same time as the new Social Security system was being created. The initiatives continued under separate unemployment insurance laws, and today the Railroad Retirement Board administers the separate unemployment insurance for railroad workers. Due to this separate program, railroad workers are not “covered” in the QCEW.

Religious organizations have a more recent reason for not being covered. Under a 1981 Supreme Court ruling, schools affiliated with a religion are not required to be covered by Unemployment Insurance programs. Due to differences between state UI laws, certain types of nonprofit employers, including religious organizations, are given a choice of coverage or noncoverage. While there is an industry (NAICS) code for religious organizations, some employment is covered in NAICS 8131 but most is non-covered.

Finally, proprietors are generally not included in the QCEW data because, as sole proprietors or partners in a firm, they are not required to pay unemployment insurance for themselves, no matter how large the firm is.

Recognizing the need for a more complete view of local labor force, Chmura includes estimates of employment for railroads, religious organizations, and the self-employed to its JobsEQ® technology platform. “Total employment” is the default employment type in JobsEQ, representing the sum of these three data sets and covered employment.

Employment TypesEmployment Types

We are excited about these break-outs within JobsEQ and the insights they provide our users about their regional economies. If you are interested in seeing a demonstration, please contact us.

Research support provided by Patrick Clapp.