Friday, October 21, 2011

QWI Release for the Data Geek

By Ranada Robinson, Senior Project Associate. 

Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau rolled out new data features in its Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) Online database. Before now, employment data were available by state, in-state metro area, and county. Within that data, users could splice out employment and wage data by sex, business sector up to 4-digit NAICS, private versus all ownership levels, and by age group, including 14-18, 19-21, 22-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65-99. Here at Market Street, we’ve used this data to examine workforce aging issues and young professional trends.

Now, QWI enables users to splice out employment data by educational attainment and race and ethnicity. This is an exciting new feature, as it allows users to delve into the data to seek trends that were much more difficult to grasp before. Educational attainment data is available by sex and by four distinct levels of education: less than a high school diploma, high school diploma or equivalent, some college or an associate degree, and a bachelor’s degree or higher. This means that for a specified geography, a user can find out if a business sector is heavily employed by a certain level of education. This data can also be used to determine how males compare to females as related to educational attainment within sectors. For instance, here in metro Atlanta, according to third quarter 2010 data, women ($40,908) earn on average less than men ($63,732). This data were already available prior to this new release. But now, we can look and see that across all educational levels this is true. There is a lower percentage of women who don’t have at least a high school diploma (10.7%) than men, and they earn $11,388 less than men at the same attainment level ($25,860 vs. $37,248). The percentage of women with at least a bachelor’s degree (30.1%) is on par with that of men (30.6%). These women on average earn $56,592 annually, compared to $68,424 for men with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Employment and wage data are also available by race and ethnicity. In metro Atlanta, the average worker earns $48,936 annually. With this data, we can take a look at how much of the workforce is comprised by various racial or ethnic groups and we can compare the annual wages that group earns. Whites make up 57.9 percent of the metro workforce and earn on average $57,240. Asians make up only 4.5 percent, and are the second highest earners of the four groups I examined ($50,796). Hispanics, who represent 6.5 percent of the regional workforce, come in at third, earning $35,436. Finally, Blacks represent 30.2 percent and earn $35,400. 

These data are very useful, and our team looks forward to utilizing it to find added value to our reports and understanding of community trends.