Colorado Occupational Employment and Wages - 2018

For Immediate Release
Date: April 9, 2019 / 8:00 AM
Contact: Bill Thoennes (303) 318-8004 or Cher Haavind (303) 318-8003
Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations


The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program is a Federal-State cooperative program that provides estimates of employment and wages for over 800 non-military detailed occupations in 22 major occupational groups. Every year, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, in partnership with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, collects and publishes occupation and wage data for the State of Colorado and for ten substate regions: seven Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and three Balance of State (BOS) Areas.

Statewide Highlights

Workers in the State of Colorado had an average (mean) hourly wage of $26.84 in 2018, more than 7 percent above the US average of $24.98, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The statewide median hourly wage1 for all covered employment2 was $20.34 compared to the US median of $18.58.

Statewide Occupational Employment and Wages

The occupational groups with the most workers were Office and administrative support (361,390 workers), Sales and related (291,900), and Food preparation and serving-related occupations (255,250). These three groups accounted for 35 percent of total covered employment. Management occupations had the highest average wage, while Food preparation and serving-related occupations had the lowest (see table 1).

Regional Occupational Employment

The most common detailed occupations statewide were Retail salespersons (86,610 workers), Combined food preparation and serving workers (65,670), and Cashiers (56,710), and these were also among the top three occupations in many of the substate areas (see Table 2).

Go to for a map of Colorado’s MSAs and BOS Areas.

Regional Occupational Wages

The Boulder MSA had the highest overall average and median wages and the Eastern & Southern Colorado BOS Area had the lowest (see table 3). Both Boulder and Denver had average and median wages that are higher than the statewide average and median.

Statewide Location Quotients

Location quotients (LQs) allow us to explore the occupational make-up of a state, MSA, or BOS 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 an area than it does nationally.

Compared to the US, Colorado demonstrated a higher share of employment in Computer and Mathematical (LQ of 1.47), Life, Physical, and Social Science (1.43), and Business and financial occupations (1.36) and a lower share of employment in Production (0.62), Transportation and Material Moving (0.81), and Farming, Fishing, and Forestry occupations (0.81). See table 4 for detailed occupations with the highest LQs.

Regional Location Quotients

The occupations with the highest concentrations of employment in each substate area were Physicists in the Boulder MSA (LQ  35.47), Religious workers, all other in the Colorado Springs MSA (17.13), Cartographers and photogrammetrists in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA (5.51), Conservation Scientists in the Fort Collins MSA (28.53), Pump operators, except wellhead in the Grand Junction MSA (40.37), Service unit operators in the Greeley MSA (41.73), Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders in the Pueblo MSA (12.66), Graders and sorters, agricultural products in the Eastern & Southern Colorado BOS Area (28.56), Rock splitters, quarry in the Southwest Colorado BOS Area (17.74), and Stonemasons in the Northwest Colorado BOS Area (23.10).

Spotlight on: Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations

The Life, Physical, and Social Science group includes occupations such as Food Scientists, Microbiologists, Astronomers, Chemists, Hydrologists, Economists, Historians, Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, and Social Science Research Assistants. There were 30,330 workers employed in this group in Colorado in 2018, with an average hourly wage of $36.62 and a median hourly wage of $32.42.

The Colorado Occupational Employment Statistics Survey

In Colorado, 3,638 businesses were initially surveyed beginning in November of 2017 and 3,650 were initially surveyed beginning in May of 2018. After excluding establishments that were out of business or out of scope, a total of 81.6 percent of 6,925 businesses provided information on the job titles and wages of their employees. These data were combined with responses from the previous two years (four biannual surveys) to produce the 2018 occupational estimates highlighted in this document.

OES data are available from BLS at and on the CDLE LMI website at (Products & Resources: Reports, Brochures & Posters OR Data Trends > Employment and Wage Data > Occupation Data: LMI Gateway Related Items). Industry-specific data (NAICS Sector and 3- and 4-digit, Excel files) are available upon request; please contact

1The median wage (50th percentile wage) is the point at which one-half of workers make less than the amount and one-half make more.
2Employment covered by state unemployment insurance laws or, for federal workers, covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees program.

Technical Note

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey is a semiannual mail survey measuring occupational employment and wage rates for wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments in the United States. The OES data available from BLS include:

  • cross-industry occupational employment and wage estimates for the nation and approximately 530 areas, including states and the District of Columbia, MSAs, nonmetropolitan areas, and territories;
  • national industry-specific estimates at the NAICS sector, 3-, 4-, and selected 5- and 6-digit industry levels; and
  • national estimates by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals.

OES data is available at

OES estimates are constructed from a sample of about 1.2 million establishments. Each year, two semiannual panels of approximately 180,000 to 200,000 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 2018 estimates are based on responses from six semiannual panels collected over a 3-year period: May 2018, November 2017, May 2017, November 2016, May 2016, and November 2015. The unweighted sampled employment of 83 million across all six semiannual panels represents approximately 58 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 71 percent based on establishments and 68 percent based on weighted sampled employment.

For more information about OES concepts and methodology, go to

The 2018 OES estimates are based on the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system and the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Information about the 2010 SOC is available on the BLS website at and information about the 2017 NAICS is available at

Substate area definitions

The substate area data published in this release reflect the standards and definitions established by the US Office of Management and Budget.

Additional information

Answers to frequently asked questions about OES, including uses of OES data, are available at Detailed technical information about the OES survey is available in the Survey Methods and Reliability Statement on the BLS website at