Visualizing The American Workforce As 100 People
Visualizing The American Workforce As 100 People

n 2022, the U.S. population stood at 333 million. Of that, roughly 60% were employed in various jobs, positions, and sectors in the U.S. economy.

But where did all these people work? What jobs did they do and what positions did they hold? Where do most Americans do their nine-to-five?

Using data from the National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates (2022) put out by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Visual Capitalist’s Pallavi Rao reimagines the employed American workforce as only 100 people, to find out answers.

Interestingly, the data contains a mix of information demarcations. Some are job-specific (type of work), some are based on position (like Management), and some are broken down by industry (Transport and Health).

Visualizing The American Workforce As 100 People

The Most Common Jobs In the U.S.

By far, most of the American workforce (13 out of 100) are employed in Office & Administrative work. This includes a mind-boggling variety of jobs: receptionists, payroll clerks, secretaries, proof-readers, administrative assistants, and customer service representatives to name a few.

Notably, any sort of management role is absent from this, as well as any other job categories, since the BLS categorizes managers in their own class.

The industry which employs the second largest group of people is Health, accounting for 11 people from the 100. This category is a combination of two sectors listed in the original dataset (healthcare practitioners and healthcare support) and covers the entire industry: from physicians, surgeons, veterinarians, nurses, and therapists to technicians, assistants, orderlies, and home and personal care aides.

Here’s a quick look at all the major sectors most of America’s workforce actually works in.

Rank Jobs People Examples
1. Office & Admin 13 Receptionists, Clerks, Customer service, Secretaries.
2. Health 11 Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Vets, Orderlies, Personal care aides.
3. Transport 9 Warehouse workers, Packagers, Pilots, Ambulance, Bus, Truck, Taxi drivers, Ship captains.
4. Sales 9 Sales representatives, Counter clerks.
5. Food 8 Food preparers & servers, Bartenders, Dishwashers, Hosts.
6. Management 6 Legislators, Chief executives, Directors, General & Operations managers.
7. Business & Finance 6 Accountants, Auditors, Financial analysts, Logisticians.
8. Manufacturing 6 Factory workers, Gas fitters, Machine operators, Cobblers, Tailors, Barbers.
9. Education 6 Teachers (all fields, all levels).
10. Construction & Extraction 4 Stone / brick / block / cement masons. Construction laborers. Roofers, Plumbers, Electricians, Mining workers.
11. Mechanics & Installation 4 Auto mechanic, Farm equipment mechanic, Home appliance mechanic, Locksmiths.
12. Data & Tech 3 Information analyst, Database architect, Software & Web
developers, Data scientists, Mathematicians, Computer support.
13. Custodial 3 Cleaning, Groundskeeping, Landscaping, Housekeeping.
14. Protection 2 Cops, Firefighters, Security guards, Lifeguards, Correctional officers.
15. Hospitality 2 Animal trainers / caretakers. Ushers / attendants. Makeup artists. Concierge. Exercise trainers.
16. Architecture & Engineering 2 All engineers and architects (excluding the information industry).
17. Community & Social Service 2 Social workers, Therapists (counsellors) & Religious work.
18. Arts, Media, & Sport 1 Fine artists, Designers, Actors, Athletes, Journalists, Writers, Authors, Musicians.
19. Science 1 All scientists (not engineers).
20. Legal 1 Lawyers, Judges, Paralegals, Mediators.
21. Farming, Fishing, & Forestry 1 Farmers, logging workers.
  Total 100  

The third most common job is actually a tie between Transport—cargo moving workers, pilots, truck drivers—and Sales—retail and industry sales agents, counter clerks—with both sectors employing nine of the 100 people. In the Sales category, two of the nine people are cashiers.

Ranked fifth is Food, with eight people, ranging from private chefs to serving staff at fast food restaurants.

Another six all belong in some kind of Management role (across industry, and including legislators) with two of those six being “top level executives” like a CEO, a general manager, a mayor, or university president. Management shares its spot with Business & Finance, Manufacturing, and Education, all at six each.

The following jobs or industries also employ the same number of people:

  • Construction & Extraction along with Mechanics & Installation, at four each.

  • Data & Tech, with Custodial jobs, with three each.

  • Protection, Hospitality, Architecture & Engineering, and Social work, all at two each.

  • Artists & Athletes, Scientists, Legal, and Farming, Fishing & Forestry are all one each.

Quirks of the Job Data

From the numbers, some fascinating nuances of the American workforce are revealed. For example, there are more cashiers (2) in the economy than artists, writers, designers & athletes (1). There are the same number of customer service representatives as the entire Scientific and Legal fields put together (2).

But perhaps the most interesting quirk comes from how few people are employed in the Farming, Fishing & Forestry industry, a critical primary sector. In raw data, the BLS estimates only slightly more than 450,000 farm, fish & forestry workers.

Importantly, it’s worth noting the BLS only collects data from “nonfarm” establishments, explaining the low estimate for their category, which is almost one-sixth of what the USDA estimates. Please see the data note at the end of this article for a full explanation.

Which Jobs Have the Highest Wages in the U.S.?

Meanwhile, the top 20 highest paid jobs (by annual average wages) all belong to doctors (usually specialists or surgeons), with two exceptions: CEOs and athletes.

The lowest-paid jobs are a mix of entertainers, and service and retail staff.

As a broader category, however, Management makes the most money, followed by Legal and then Tech. Workers in Food, Health Support, and Custodial jobs have the lowest wages.

Rank Jobs Annual Average Wages
1. Management $131,200
2. Legal $124,540
3. Data & Tech $108,130
4. Health (Practitioners) $96,770
5. Architecture & Engineering $94,670
6. Business & Finance $86,080
7. Scientists $83,640
8. Arts, Media, Sports $76,500
9. Education $63,240
10. Construction & Extraction $58,400
11. Community & Social Service $55,760
12. Mechanics & Installation $55,680
13. Protection $54,010
14. Sales $50,370
15. Office & Admin $45,550
16. Manufacturing $45,370
17. Transport $43,930
18. Farming, Fishing, & Forestry $37,870
20. Hospitality $36,210
19. Custodial $35,900
21. Health (Support) $35,560
22. Food $32,130

Analyzing the data throws up a few correlations between number of employees and wages. The top three sectors with the most jobs (Admin, Transport, and Sales) are in the bottom 10 categories when it comes to pay.

On the other hand, three sectors in the bottom 10 of employment numbers, (Data & Tech, Architecture & Engineering, and Legal) are in the top five highest paid sectors.

The Health sector sees a big divide in pay between practitioners (doctors, nurses, therapists) ranked 5th and support staff (assistants, aides, & orderlies), ranked 21st, or second-to-last.

How is the American Workforce Changing?

Over the last five years, the American workforce has not stayed static. Of the listed 22 groups, 13 saw growth in employment numbers, nine saw a decrease, and one stayed flat since 2018.

The top gainer by far is Health Support (medical assistants, care aides, orderlies, etc.) which grew by 65%. Looking at the timeline of growth does not paint a steady picture: employment jumped between 2018 and 2019, briefly fell in 2020, and has since risen again in 2021-2022.

Another top gainer is Transport, rising from the 4th to 3rd biggest employer, beating out Sales in 2022. Business & Finance and Management have also seen steady increases since 2018.

On the other hand Hospitality saw a staggering 48% drop in numbers, not all together surprising given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the rise of tech companies like Airbnb.

Meanwhile, Office & Admin work saw a 15% loss in employees, even though this category is still the biggest employer in the country by a significant margin. Although jobs in this group saw steady declines from 2018-2021, it registered a slight uptick in workers between 2021 and 2022.

Here’s a full list of top-level sectors and how they changed.

Jobs 2018 2022 % Change (2018-2022)
Health Support 4,117,450 6,792,310 +65%
Transport 10,244,260 13,560,460 +32%
Management 7,616,650 9,860,740 +29%
Business & Finance 7,721,300 9,677,720 +25%
Data & Tech 4,384,300 5,003,910 +14%
Sciences 1,171,910 1,314,360 +12%
Legal 1,127,900 1,216,600 +7%
Community & Social Service 2,171,820 2,313,620 +7%
Arts, Media, & Sports 1,951,170 2,063,380 +6%
Health Practioners 8,646,730 9,043,070 +5%
Mechanics and Installataion 5,628,880 5,823,400 +3%
Construction & Extraction 5,962,640 6,075,520 +2%
Protection 3,437,410 3,437,610 0%
Custodial 4,421,980 4,316,350 -2%
Architecture & Engineering 2,556,220 2,481,170 -3%
Education 8,779,780 8,496,780 -3%
Farming, Fishing, & Forestry 480,130 461,750 -4%
Manufacturing 9,115,530 8,738,980 -4%
Food 13,374,620 12,514,620 -6%
Sales and Related 14,542,290 13,183,250 -9%
Office & Admin 21,828,990 18,674,770 -15%
Hospitality 5,451,330 2,835,650 -48%

Looking ahead, questions about the future of the American workforce loom large, especially in the wake of the AI revolution that has swept imaginations, and quite possibly, soon the economy. People who hold administrative jobs—the largest category—are most vulnerable since many office tasks can be automated with increasingly sophisticated AI tools.

Will AI be as dominating a factor as the Industrial Revolution on the global economy? Will it cause as big a shift as the offshoring of manufacturing from the U.S.?

Or will AI blend seamlessly into the current make-up of the American workforce, merely enhancing productivity and profit?

Tyler Durden
Sat, 05/20/2023 – 21:00

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