huge sale

Most Americans work one of these 10 jobs

April 1, 2014
April 1, 2014

More than one in five US workers is employed in just 10 occupations, a new report from the US government shows.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report details employment in 821 occupations, from accountants and auditors to zoologists and wildlife biologists. The biggest one in numbers of paychecks handed out may be found at CVS or Macy’s.

Here’s a look at the top 10 occupations, the number of workers, and their median wage:

  1. Retail salespersons, 4.48 million workers earning  $25,370
  2. Cashiers  3.34 million workers earning $20,420
  3. Food prep and serving staff, 3.02 million workers earning $18,880
  4. General office clerk, 2.83 million working earning $29,990
  5. Registered nurses, 2.66 million workers earning $68,910
  6. Waiters and waitresses, 2.40 million workers earning $20,880
  7. Customer service representatives, 2.39 million workers earning $33,370
  8. Laborers, and freight and material movers, 2.28 million workers earning $26,690
  9. Secretaries and admins (not legal or medical),  2.16 million workers earning $34,000
  10. Janitors and cleaners (not maids),  2.10 million workers earning, $25,140

Total numbers working as retail salespeople, secretaries, and waitresses grew since the 2011 tallies, but the number of nurses declined slightly.

Teachers do not make the list, though there are more than 2.5 million of them and another 1.4 million substitutes and teacher assistants, because they are counted in different categories: primary, middle school, and secondary.

And for those who prefer micro-data, here’s a look at five fields with the smallest numbers of employed workers (a reminder that the numbers might seem especially small because the self-employed people in these fields are not counted):

  1. Prosthodontists, 290 workers earning $128,310
  2. Fishers and related workers,  480 workers earning $36,840
  3. Private household cooks, 590 workers earning $27,350
  4. Fabric menders (except garment), 800 workers earning $27,910
  5. Wood pattern-makers, 870 workers  earning $39,940

Fishing and farming is the smallest field, accounting for just 0.33% of all US jobs. Office and administrative support is the largest occupational category, accounting for 16% of US jobs as of mid-2013, followed by sales and retail openings.

The downside to these most plentiful jobs, of course, is that most of them pay around half or so of the US median income. Maybe this is another argument for raising cashers’ pay to $40,000 a year.

Follow Vickie on Twitter @WorkingKind. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

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