About the Alaska Worker Counts (ODB) Data
Source of Worker Counts and Wage Data
This data set comes from Alaska’s Occupational Database (ODB). Employers provide the occupation, place of work, and wages for each wage and salary worker covered by unemployment insurance. This employer-provided information is the core of the ODB.
The quarterly worker count is the cumulative number of unique individuals who worked in the occupation at any time over the entire quarter. The annual worker count is the cumulative number of unique individuals who worked in the occupation at any time over the entire year.
Worker Counts Versus Employment Estimates
Worker counts differ from employment estimates (i.e., job counts). Employment is the count of filled positions for an occupation at a single point in time. Worker counts are the cumulative number of individuals who worked in the occupation over an entire period. Because a single position can be filled by more than one person over a time period (due to turnover), worker counts are almost always higher than employment estimates.
The most recent estimates of employment by occupation are available on our Occupational Forecast page.
This data set also provides total wages earned in an occupation for the entire year. This total includes all Alaska wage and salary workers covered by unemployment insurance.
Why don't the quarterly counts sum to the annual count?
Consider the cashier example in Table 1. During the first quarter of the year, Lara and Helga are the only cashiers, so the 1st quarter worker counts would equal two. During the 2nd quarter, Lara has remained a cashier but Helga has left the occupation and Jim has entered the occupation. This means that the 2nd quarter worker count is also two. The same occurs in the 3rd and 4th quarters, with turnover between Jim, Carl, and Amy, but the worker count for these quarters remains two. The quarterly counts represent the total number of people who worked as a cashier during a specific quarter.
The annual worker counts represent the total number of people who worked as a cashier at any time during the year. To get this value, we count all people who worked as cashiers. If you look at the annual count column, you can see the names of each person who worked as a cashier during the year. Note that Lara is only counted once in the annual column even though she shows up in all 4 quarters.
|Occupation: Cashier||Quarter 1||Quarter 2||Quarter 3||Quarter 4||Annual Count|
What do the worker counts tell us?
The worker counts provide us with the number of people working in an occupation over certain time periods, but they also give insight into seasonality and turnover. Seasonality means large fluctuations between the quarterly worker count values. When there are large differences between the annual count and the quarterly counts, it is an indicator of high turnover.
Can I divide the Total Wage by the Annual Count to get an Average Wage?
We do not recommend dividing the wage by the worker counts to get an average wage for occupations. The resulting values may not accurately represent the true wage because of seasonality and turnover.
In Table 2 we can see that Lara earns a consistent quarterly wage of $10,000, but the other workers' wages vary drastically across the quarters. While the average wage is technically accurate, it does not show the wide disparities in the amount of time worked and the wages earned.
|Occupation: Cashier||Quarter 1||Quarter 2||Quarter 3||Quarter 4||Total Wage||Average Wage|
|Lara – $10,000|
Helga – $5,000
|Lara – $10,000
Jim – $3,500
|Lara – $10,000|
Carl – $25,000
|Lara – $10,000
Amy – $1,000
If you need wage data we recommend visiting the Occupation Employment Statistics (OES) page. http://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/wage/