Using Wage and Employment Statistics in a Vocational Assessment

As vocational experts at Stokes & Associates, we rely on various resources to help formulate our opinions regarding an individual’s employability and earning capacity or loss of earning capacity.

Our labor market and wage research consists of two parts. One is to identify and describe suitable vocational alternatives for an individual (“confirmatory research”). We accomplish this by conducting a Labor Market Survey, which is comprised of searching for specific jobs with potential employers in a specific geographic area to determine job requirements, availability, and suitability for our evaluees. The other part of our analysis is to investigate the employment outlook and earnings of the respective occupations (“exploratory research”). We utilize the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), which produces the Occupational Employment and Wage Survey. The OES is a cooperative program between the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and individual State Employment Security Agencies. Each state produces wage and salary information by region or metropolitan statistical area, which allows us to conduct research nationally.

As an example, if we were looking for occupations in Louisiana, the published data would provide us with:

  • The “mean” wage and three percentile measures ranging from the 25th (low), 50th (median), and 75th (high) based on straight time, gross pay;

  • Wage estimates for 799 national and 716 Louisiana statewide occupations in over 400 industry classifications;

  • Earnings data for 8 Regional Labor Market Areas in Louisiana;

  • Occupational groupings that are industry specific.

What is NOT included in this published data are specific job titles within the occupational group, which are classified by Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. Any given SOC code may have several individual job titles that fall within that code. For example, in determining earnings for light delivery drivers, “couriers and messengers” is the occupational group, based on SOC code 43-5021. The following information can be obtained for “courier and messengers” for New Orleans Regional Labor Market Area for 2015:

Number Employed

Entry Level



With this, we ascertain annual earnings ranging from the 25th percentile ($19,717) to the 75th percentile ($32,612), in addition to the number employed (310). This statistical data is then confirmed by a Labor Market Survey, which also expands our understanding of potential employment opportunities by providing information regarding actual job availabilities, accommodations available, and the corresponding earnings. Many times, the information obtained from a Labor Market Survey corresponds with the statistical data reviewed; however, if there are discrepancies, we can then explain how and why there are differences.

We offer complimentary consultations concerning "hypothetical matters." To strategize with one of our experts at Stokes & Associates, please call David Barrett at 504-454-5009, visit our website, or email

Larry S. Stokes, Ph.D.
Aaron Wolfson, Ph.D.
Todd Capielano, M.Ed., LRC, CRC, LPC, CLCP