As some of you are probably aware, the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system codes have been updated again. As our economy and technology change, new occupation categories arise, and the SOC system keeps up with these changes.
We’ll get into further detail on specific changes later in the post, but, since these updates do not simply get rolled into Analyst and EMSI data as soon as they’re released, here’s how we expect the process of transitioning to SOC 2010 to go:
- Detailed data in “true” SOC 2010 codes will not be available until May 2013; 10-year projections not until early 2014
- In the meantime, source data has become available in “transitional”/nonstandard SOC 2010 codes
- EMSI plans to move to the transitional SOC 2010 codes by late 2012, and to standard SOC 2010 by early 2014
About SOC 2010
The BLS and other federal agencies are in the process of migrating occupation data from the older classification system, SOC 2000, to the new SOC 2010. The most notable differences between the two systems are:
- Clarified and more detailed computer occupations, including the addition of information security analysts and web developers, with some definition changes to others.
- More detailed healthcare occupations (for example, three nursing specialties separated from the general registered nurses occupation; orderlies, phlebotomists, and MRI technologists as new occupations; and some other changes.)
- Transportation security screeners separated from compliance officers, security guards, and all other protective service workers.
- Two new “green” occupations: wind turbine service technicians and solar photovoltaic installers.
- And several other changes that are detailed on the BLS SOC site.
The BLS’s SOC 2010 Implementation Plan
It is important to note that there are currently no data sources from the BLS coded in standard 2010 SOC, and none will be available until May 2013.
Instead, beginning with 2010 OES published in May 2011 and ending with 2011 OES published in May 2012, the BLS will be using a distinct set of “transitional” codes which are neither standard 2000 SOC nor standard 2010 SOC. Most of the transitional categories are simply aggregations of related codes in the standard 2010 system. These same transitional codes are also used in the new 2010-2020 employment projections which were released on February 1, 2012.
Data for some new SOC 2010 occupations, like wind turbine technicians and MRI technologists, is not available in the transitional codes; their jobs and earnings numbers are combined with other related occupations during the transition period. Others, like transportation security screeners, have data available during the transition period.
Starting with 2012 OES released in May 2013, the BLS should begin publishing detailed occupational data coded in standard SOC 2010. The 2012-2022 employment projections, also coded in standard SOC 2010, will likely be released in February 2014.
Some standard SOC 2010 data is available now from the Current Population Survey or American Community Survey by obtaining public-use microdata files and translating Census 2010 occupational codes into SOC 2010 codes. (Working with public-use microdata files requires some statistical and programming knowledge.) However, Census codes are sometimes less detailed than SOC codes, and CPS and ACS are less reliable than OES for LMI purposes due to small sample sizes and possible misclassification error (especially at the level of state geographies and very detailed occupations). EMSI currently uses these sources only for occupational data on the self-employed, which is available nowhere else.
EMSI’s SOC 2010 Implementation Plan
Moving to a new coding system is complex. EMSI has dozens of finely tuned, detail-oriented processes that create our final occupation data, as well as crosswalks to CIP and O*NET codes that must be updated. In addition, we are also facing an imminent transition to NAICS 2012 industry codes. That said, we are committed to keeping our data up-to-date, especially for clients wanting to analyze the future outlook for occupations coded in SOC 2010.
EMSI plans to move all occupation data to the transitional SOC 2000/2010 codes in Q3 2012, after OES is released in May 2012. At that point we will have two years’ worth of data in the transitional codes, as well as the 2010-2020 projections, and we will be ready to convert 2001-2009 occupation data to the new codes.
Looking further forward, EMSI plans to move to standard SOC 2010 codes soon after the 2012-2022 National Employment Projections are released in early 2014.
EMSI customers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SOC changes here:
- Information about standard SOC 2010
- BLS Implementation Schedule for SOC 2010
- Information about transitional SOC 2000/2010 codes used in actual labor market data until May 2013, such as OES and the National Employment Projections
- Census 2010 Occupations with crosswalk to SOC 2010