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How industry and employment has changed since 1990 in the United States

August 04, 2014 by Gary Stockton



Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a fascinating map of the United States. It was researched by Frances Osei-Bonsu, a Denison University student who recently served an internship at the BLS. The map details the dominant industries which have employed the most people over the years since 1990. Looking at the map we can see in 1990, manufacturing was the leading employer in most U.S. states, followed by the retail trade. It's interesting to note that retail took over from manufacturing in 2003 just as online sales were starting to take off.

The Great Recession had a significant impact on the labor force, reshaping entire industries, and when you think about how the Affordable Care Act dominated our political discourse since the 2008 election, and its subsequent implementation, you can see why healthcare and social services have emerged as the dominant industry today. The largest increase in healthcare and social assistance employment in the states occurred in 2009, as retail trade, manufacturing, and other industries showed declines with the onset of the Great Recession. In fact, manufacturing remained the top employer in the state of Michigan until 2009, when it was replaced by healthcare and social assistance; in 2013, however, manufacturing returned as the largest employer in Michigan, thanks to the resurgence of the recovered auto industry.

As you might expect, states with a heavy concentration of hotels and entertainment attractions drew a significant number of jobs in the accommodation and food service industries. Nevada and Hawaii have had a very high concentration of jobs in those industries throughout the 1990–2013 period, and professional, scientific, and technical services remained the top industry in the District of Columbia.

Health care and social assistance expected to add 5.0 million jobs by 2022

MF-Health-Retail Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects that total employment in the United States will reach 161.0 million by 2022, up 15.6 million from the 2012 level of 145.4 million. Healthcare is expected to be our leading industry, growing at a rate of 29% adding 5 million jobs in the next ten years, followed by Professional and Business Services growing at 19% adding 3.4 million jobs and Construction is expected to bounce back strong with double digit growth rates and roughly 1.6 million jobs. Hospitality and accommodation is expected to grow at around 9% adding 1.2 million jobs. So we can see with these trends a transformation taking place over the next decade where the United States will have much more of a services based economy.

Industry-Growth Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Strong-Industries-for-Career-Growth Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

You can find more information on the Bureau for Labor Statistics web site.

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