Nearly 7,200 Iowa businesses are slated to receive a wage survey this year—with mailings starting in May—and officials at Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) have a plea: Help us help you by completing it.
The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey gathers employment information and wages paid for nearly 800 job titles. Donna Burkett, bureau chief of the Iowa Workforce Development’s Labor Market Information Division, considers the data a vital tool for Iowa employers to attract and retain employees, forecast job demand, and even help determine if or where to locate or expand their business. “It can be used to set wages, determine if you’re competitive, see how you compare to different areas of the state, and much more,” she said.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics administers the survey nationally in collaboration with state workforce agencies. The bureau draws a random sample of businesses, excluding farms, twice a year for part-time and full-time workers. Surveys are distributed in the spring and fall; most employers are surveyed only once every three years. For the spring panel, pre-notifications were sent in April. Mailings or emails will be sent to the selected businesses, as needed, from May until October. The employer information, which is collected for statistical purposes, remains confidential and results are aggregated.
Burkett said the OEWS data has wide-ranging implications. For example, the data was key in helping more Iowans qualify for childcare assistance and increasing payments to childcare facilities through the state’s new Child Care Initiative. Additionally, the data forms the basis for the Iowa Wage Report, a popular resource that uses an employment cost index to provide more current wages.
Unlike some states, Iowa doesn’t mandate that the OEWS survey be completed. Still, Iowa Workforce Development is tasked with achieving a 75 percent response rate for each of the 13 areas the state is divided into. Since the pandemic, when more people were at home, Burkett said it has become increasingly difficult to collect information—to the point that data in some areas of the state hasn’t been available when a business seeks it. “The only way for them to get this data is to respond to the survey,” she said.
Completing the survey takes from 10 minutes to a few hours, and Burkett’s staff is available to help. For ease, the survey can be completed online or by email. For businesses with fewer than 20 employees, completing by phone is often the fastest, Burkett said. (Call (800) 258-2221.) Survey results are published annually each fall. “It’s a great tool employers can use,” Burkett said.
Find information about the OEWS survey and the Iowa Wage Report.