Your Guide To Industrial And Occupational Employment Statistics

Veteran hiring leaders strongly advise job seekers to do a lot of research before applying for employment. One aspect of job research is employer-specific – check employers’ websites, search the Internet for comments on those employers, talk to people who work for them, etc.

Another aspect is field-specific. What is the employment situation in the field that interests you? What are the prospects for employment? Is the field growing? Is the pay good, and will it get better?

WHAT IS THE FIELD?

You can think of “the field” in either of two ways – as an occupation or as an industry. So, if someone says that he or she is interested in “a job in information technology,” that could mean:

  • working in an IT occupation for a company that is in the IT industry – for example, as a systems-software research engineer for a manufacturer of computer hardware
  • working in a IT occupation for a company that is not in the IT industry – e.g., as a web developer/designer for a manufacturer of sporting goods
  • working in a non-IT occupation for a company that is in the IT industry – e.g., as a financial analyst for a producer of software

TERMS AND CODES

In my view, most job seekers should research both the occupations and the industries that interest them. And when the research turns to statistics, job seekers need to understand how certain terms and numerical codes are used.

Search & Employ® cites occupational and industrial employment statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a part of the United States Department of Labor. For occupational statistics, the BLS uses a system of names and numerical codes called the Standard Occupational Classification and Coding Structure. For industrial statistics, the BLS uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

OCCUPATIONS

The SOC lists 23 “major groups” of occupations. The major groups are divided into 97 “minor groups”; which, in turn, are divided into 461 “broad groups.” The latter consist of 840 “detailed occupations.” In the following discussion, I use computer-related occupations as examples. The groups and occupations have six-digit codes. The highest-level codes consist of two digits other than zero, followed by four zeroes. In the next level down, a non-zero digit replaces the first zero. This pattern continues, with successive digits other than zero representing successively narrower classifications.

  • First two digits: major groups, which include Computer and Mathematical Occupations, SOC 15-0000.
  • Third digit: minor groups. SOC 15-0000 consists of two minor groups: SOC 15-1100, Computer Occupations; and SOC 15-2000, Mathematical Science Occupations. NOTE: SOC 15-1100 has an extra non-zero digit because that occupation was changed from “Computer Specialists,” which had an SOC code of 15-1000.
  • Fourth and fifth digits: broad groups. SOC 15-1100 consists of six broad groups: SOC 15-1110, Computer and Information Research Scientists; SOC 15-1120, Computer and Information Analysts; SOC 15-1130, Software Developers and Programmers; SOC 15-1140, Database Administrators and Network Architects; SOC 15-1150, Computer Support Specialists; and SOC 15-1190, Miscellaneous Computer Occupations.
  • Sixth digit: detailed occupations. SOC 15-1150 consists of two detailed occupations: SOC 15-1151, Computer User Support Specialists; and SOC 15-1152, Computer Network Support Specialists.

INDUSTRIES

NAICS is a 2- through 6-digit hierarchical classification system, offering five levels of detail. Each digit in the code is part of a series of progressively narrower categories, and the more digits in the code signify greater classification detail. The first two digits designate the economic sector, the third digit designates the subsector, the fourth digit designates the industry group, the fifth digit designates the NAICS industry, and the sixth digit designates the national industry. The 6-digit level allows for the three countries participating in NAICS – the United States, Canada, and Mexico – each to have country-specific detail. In the discussion below, I use Information categories as examples.

  • Two digits: sectors, which include NAICS 51, Information.
  • Three digits: subsectors. NAICS 51 consists of six subsectors: NAICS 511, Publishing Industries (except Internet); NAICS 512, Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries; NAICS 515, Broadcasting (except Internet); NAICS 517, Telecommunications; NAICS 518, Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services; and NAICS 519, Other Information Services.
  • Four digits: industry groups. NAICS 517 consists of four industry groups: NAICS 5171, Wired Telecommunications Carriers; NAICS 5172, Wireless Communications Carriers (except Satellite); NAICS 5174, Satellite Telecommunications; and NAICS 5179, Other Telecommunications.
  • Five digits: NAICS industries. NAICS 5179 consists of one NAICS industry of the same name and an NAICS code of 51791.
  • Six digits: United States industries. NAICS 51791 consists of two United States industries: NAICS 517911, Telecommunications Resellers; and NAICS 517919, All Other Telecommunications.

By LISA MILLER

This article appeared in the November-December 2015 issue of Search & Employ Magazine