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Glossary of terms

This glossary defines terms related to the economy and the job market.
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A person’s profession, principal work or business, especially as a means of earning a living; for example, dental assistant. A set of activities or tasks that a worker performs. Workers that perform the same tasks are in the same occupation, whether or not they are in the same industry.

Occupation classifications

See Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system.

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

A federal/state cooperative program that produces employment and wage estimates for more than 800 occupations. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses the OES survey to collect job titles and wages in every state and territory in the U.S. It is the classification system of choice for most occupational publications and software products. (

Occupational information

Specific information about a particular occupation including wages, required skills, benefits and education requirements.

Occupational Information Network (O-NET)

A comprehensive database of worker attributes and job characteristics developed by the U.S. Department of Labor. (

Opportunity cost

The amount of one thing that must be sacrificed to obtain something else. For example, if you attend college, you may give up the opportunity to work full time. The opportunity cost of college is your potential earnings from employment.


An expectation for the future.