The ORS is the Occupational Requirements Survey (www.bls.gov/ors). It is fully funded by SSA, but conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more specifically by a significant group of people within the National Compensation Survey program. SSA began funding BLS/NCS/ORS to see if they could collect data at the SOC level from employers regarding many different factors that are not presently tied to the SOC (other than self-reported incumbent data in the O*NET program). The data collection effort was an outgrowth of the OIDAP (Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel - www.ssa.gov/oidap) efforts from late 2008 to mid 2012. Many of the OIDAP recommendations called for improved factors for data collection. This is the original source of the many additional factors, particularly for Physical Conditions and Environmental factors. Unfortunately, the OIDAP panel had not completed its work on Mental/Cognitive factors prior to its dissolution in 2012.
SSA contracted with BLS/NCS for 3 years (2013-2015) to see "if" they could collect this kind of data at the SOC level. The conclusion was "of course we can", so actual data collection began in 2016. The "First Wave" data collection ended in 2018, with publication of some of the early data in 2017, 2018, and the final set in 2019. Because of wording problems in their first wave definition of many of the mental/cognitive factors and their sampling strategy, they did not obtain enough data to reliably report in this group for the these factors. They have reworded their data collection instruments and modified their sampling strategy, and they are now beginning to get sufficient data to report in their "second wave" data collection effort. Here is their history article: www.bls.gov/opub/hom/ors/history.htm
Here is their list of what they collect and report: www.bls.gov/opub/hom/ors/calculation.htm
Think of their Data Collection Manual as the new Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs. Available here: www.bls.gov/ors/information-for-survey-participants/pdf/...
As an alternative to the cumbersome BLS data reporting tool, SkillTRAN began reporting the final first wave data set in 2019 in its web-based products. In the Job Browser Pro PC, we have added a web-based hyperlink from the PC version to the web page containing this 2018 "final first wave data". This data set covers 347 unique SOC codes. Not all data elements are reported for every occupation. This covers about 83% of the labor force. A "Second Wave" data collection effort lasting 5 years is underway, with revised data definitions and some reporting now of revised mental/cognitive factors. When you visit the ORS site directly and request data from their data reporting tool, you can now get (only) the 2021 "Preliminary Second Wave Data" for 367 SOC occupations.
The ORS data is reported in a variety of ways differently from how we are used to seeing in the DOT. There is a higher level of precision, with the average value reported first, then the Standard Error of Measurement (SEM). Before your eyes roll to the back of your head, just multiply the value reported x the reported SEM. The result is what you can add or subtract from the reported value to be confident that 2/3 of the reported value fall within that range (68% confidence interval). If you want to be 95% confident, multiply the SEM x 2, then add or subtract that bigger range for 95% confidence.
Example: 51-9061 Inspectors, Testers, Samplers, and Weighers
Hours of Sitting, mean Value = 2.94 hours SEM = .4 hours
68% Confidence - Employers report that employees sit between 2.54 hours and 3.34 hours per day (+/- .4 SEM)
95% Confidence - Employers report that employees sit between 2.14 hours and 3.74 hours per day (+/- .8 SEM)
BLS reports data the way that any statistical organization does - with lots of math and careful collection. They ask employers to report this information "off the cuff", with no actual time studies of workers nor on the job observation. Further, the data is collected at the SOC group level, so this data reflects typically more than one specific occupation. This example above includes a whopping 782 DOT occupations!
The challenge we face as consumers/users of this rich new data set is how to incorporate this into our daily work/testimony. It should start by first getting familiar with their new/revised data definitions - contained in their Data Collection Manual. Here is a shorter starting point: www.bls.gov/opub/hom/ors/pdf/ors.pdf
BLS collects and reports the data. How/when SSA elects to further aggregate/condense some of these factors remains to be determined. SSA is building some kind of Vocational Information Tool (VIT), but very little has been shared about what it actually does or will do. The overall data collection effort certainly points towards SSA's desire to move from the DOT level of detail to SOC groups of data. But how this will be implemented in SSA decision making/claims adjudication is undisclosed and will require major policy revisions.
The second wave of ORS data collection is 5 years and will continue through FFY 2023. It may well continue after that so that there is a continuous update of the many factors reported that SSA can use.
In late December 2021, ORS released its third preliminary set of Second Wave data. Its current web-based data tool uses only this data set (for 367 occupations). The First wave final data set is no longer available for some unknown reason at the ORS site. Because it covers more occupations and is "Final", SkillTRAN now displays both data sources side by side as reported by the ORS program to incorporate both 2018 final and 2021 Preliminary data side by side. You can look forward to more values and SEM calculations!
The more you read about ORS, the more you will understand about it. If you plan to use it, study up - hyperlinks above!
NOTE: SkillTRAN Public Comments to ORS: https://skilltran.com/index.php/customers/industry-news/149-ors/209-skilltran-ors