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Tennessee jobs: New data shows overall wage growth, but big gaps among occupations

New data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows wages increased from 2015 to 2016. PHOTO: MGN

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--New data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows wages increased from 2015 to 2016.

Based on data from Tennessee employers and wages paid in 2016, the data-crunchers analyzed 754 different occupational groups along with 14 metro and urban areas. What they found was Tennessee's mean annual wage rose from $41,296 in 2015 to $42,354 in 2016. The median wage also rose from $31,818 to $32,801, an increase of $983. Nationally, the average wage among all occupations was $49,630.

The majority of the highest paying occupations were in the healthcare field. Healthcare accounted for 12 of the 15 highest paying jobs, with anesthesiologists leading the way with an annual wage of $270,143. Overall, healthcare occupational groups made up 9.4% of the state's employment. Registered nurses account for the bulk of jobs with 60,000. RNs earned above-average wages, with an average of $58,405 per year.

Construction and extraction jobs reported almost 91,000 jobs in the state, accounting for 3.1% of the total state employment. Among the laborers, electricians, and carpenters that make up the field, elevator installers and repairers earned the most with $69,492 annually. Boilermakers were second with $65,935. Carpenter workers earned the least, averaging $27,857.

The annual median wage in construction and extraction was $39,996, just below the state's average.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs were led by nuclear engineers whom earn an average of $126,195 annually. On the low end, food science technicians earned an average of $31,499. Nashville had the second-most STEM jobs in the state, just behind Knoxville.

Among all occupations, laborers, and freight, stock and material movers accounted for the largest number of occupations with 96,260. Retail salespersons were close behind with 93,500 employees. Food prep and servers added another 74,390 jobs to the state, with cashiers close behind, accounting for 72,320 jobs. These occupations each earned below-average wages.

Cashiers average $19,969, servers $19,668, and all combined food prep and serving workers averaged $18,800, well below the state's average.

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