Using Wage Data to Maintain a Leadership Position in Your Region

This article appeared in the Mar/Apr 2024 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Leadership takes on many forms and can be measured in many ways. The best companies are always benchmarking themselves against their competitors and other employers in their region and beyond.

For this article, let’s focus on wages. Offering competitive pay is an obvious — and effective — foundation for attracting and retaining qualified talent. And, thanks to the State of Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives (LMI for short), it’s very easy to get wage info for every area of the state on a timely basis. (Each new year of data goes public around late April/early May of the following year.)

This article gives you a step-by-step process for tapping into this great — and free — resource, which is available online at

The most useful breakdown of the data will usually be by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), so that’s what we’ll look at in this article. There are MSA breakouts for Detroit/Warren/Dearborn, Lansing/East Lansing, Grand Rapids/Wyoming, Ann Arbor, Muskegon, Jackson, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, Midland, etc. Some, like the Jackson MSA, equate to one county (Jackson County, in this case). Others cover multiple counties, like the Lansing/East Lansing MSA that encompasses Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. (For info on MSA configurations, visit

Here is the step-by-step process for getting, for instance, a Jackson County report:

Step 1: Click the Wages drop-down menu item in the navbar near the top of the page, then under Wages by Occupation click the State and Regional Occupational Wage Rate Search link. You’re then able to customize a report for your needs.

Step 2: From the categories listed on the left side of the page, scroll down and choose Wages and then select Wage Rates by Industry and Occupation - OES.

Step 3: Select Metropolitan Statistical Area for the Area Type (uncheck the State option if it’s selected) and click the Apply button, then for Area uncheck All to deselect everything and then select the Jackson, MI Metropolitan Statistical Area. (If you wanted to include additional MSAs, select them here as well.) Click Apply.

Step 4: Leave the Year selection as-is (the most recent time period is always pre-selected) but, for the Occupation Level, select only for Detailed Occupation (6-Digit SOC).

Step 5: From the Occupation filter, select one or more occupations from the very long alphabetical list of provided job titles and then click Apply.

If you can’t match up a position by the title used in LMI’s system, use the federal O*NET system ( to search for occupations by keyword. This will, usually, get you the title that the Michigan LMI site uses. For example, I once helped a company looking for Machine Builders/Assemblers, but there’s nothing by that name in the LMI system. Using “machine builder,” “machine assembler,” and “assembler” as keyword searches on O*NET, I found “Electromechanical Equipment Assemblers,” “Team Assemblers,” “Other Assemblers and Fabricators,” etc. The company I was helping found that “team assemblers” was well aligned with what they were looking for.

Step 6: For the Wage Type, select whether you want annual salary or hourly wages…or select All for both!

Once the report is displayed, you have an option of downloading the report as an Excel file, a PDF, etc.

Keep this article handy and you’ll be able to quickly benchmark your company’s wages for just about any position against other employers in your region, in other areas of the state or statewide.

Learn More

Bill RaylBill Rayl
Executive Director of Workforce Solutions
Call 517-487-8513