Which Industries Gained Jobs, Which Lost Jobs: Longer-Term Employment Trends in Charts

New all-time highs: Construction, Wholesale trade, Arts & Entertainment, and State government.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Some industries pushed their payrolls to new all-time-high; others shed workers, such as retail which has been structural decline since 2017; at other industries, employment has been roughly level at record levels, for months, after the pandemic spike, such as in manufacturing and professional and business services. We’ll look at employment at the major industry categories and at government jobs, based on the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On Friday, we discussed how average hourly wages surged for the third month in a row, growing at an annualized rate of 5.0% in November – that Wage Growth was Not Cooperating with the Rosy Scenario of a Normalizing Labor Market; and we walked through the details of the jobs data and saw that the labor market is giving the Fed no reason at all to cut rates.

The private sector.

Construction, all types of construction, from single-family housing to highways. We already have been amazed by the eyepopping boom in construction spending on factories. Overall construction payrolls hit a new all-time high:

  • Total employment: 8.03 million, new all-time high
  • 1-month growth: +2,000
  • 3-month growth: +36,000

Manufacturing: Employment had plateaued for months after the post-pandemic boom. But in October, jobs got hit by the strikes in the auto industry. In November, many of those jobs came back.

  • Total employment: 13.0 million
  • 1-month growth: +28,000
  • 3-month growth: +4,000

Mining and Logging: This chart goes back to 2014 (all others to 2015) because this sector had its recent employment peak in 2014, which is when the biggest coal mines began to restructure in bankruptcy court and shed lots of workers after the collapsed price of US natural gas had caused the price of coal to collapse, while power generators shifted from coal to natural gas, a trend that started in 2000, and more recently to renewables.

  • Total employment: 644,000
  • 1-month growth: 11,000
  • 3-month growth: 0

Professional and business services, the largest sector by employment, includes Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Management of Companies and Enterprises; Administrative and Support, and Waste Management and Remediation Services.

Some of the tech and social media companies are included, others are in “Information” (below) or in other categories.

  • Total employment: 23.0 million
  • 1-month growth: -9,000
  • 3-month growth: -24,000

“Information” is a small sector that includes web search portals, data processing, data transmission, information services, software publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting including over the Internet, and telecommunications. Some of the tech and social media companies with big layoff announcements are included here.

  • Total employment: 3.03 million
  • 1-month growth: +10,000
  • 3-month growth: -15,000

Healthcare and social assistance:

  • Total employment: 21.8 million, new all-time high
  • 1-month growth: +93,000
  • 3-month growth: +254,000

Retail trade includes workers at brick-and-mortar retail stores – malls, auto dealers, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. – and other retail locations such as markets. It does not include the tech-related jobs of ecommerce operations, and it does not include drivers and warehouse employees. A big portion of this sector has been under heavy pressure from ecommerce operations:

  • Total employment: 15.5 million
  • 1-month growth: -38,000
  • 3-month growth: -41,000

Leisure and hospitality – restaurants, lodging, resorts, etc. – has had a hard time hiring, as working conditions are often tough, including split shifts and weekend and evening work, and pay can be relatively low.

  • Total employment: 16.8 million
  • 1-month growth: +40,000
  • 3-month growth: +158,000

Financial activities include finance and insurance plus real estate (renting, leasing, buying, selling, and management).

  • Total employment: 9.2 million
  • 1-month growth: +10,000
  • 3-month growth: -1,000

Transportation and Warehousing:

  • Total employment: 6.7 million
  • 1-month growth: -5,000
  • 3-month growth: -5,000

Wholesale Trade:

  • Total employment: 6.1 million
  • 1-month growth: +8,000
  • 3-month growth: +35,000

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation includes spectator sports, performing arts, amusement, gambling, recreation, museums, historical sites, and similar:

  • Total employment: 2.5 million, eked out new all-time high
  • 1-month growth: +1,000
  • 3-month growth: +36,000

Jobs in government.

Federal government civilian employment: the spikes occur every 10 years when the census is taken.

  • Total civilian employment: 3.0 million, except for the census periods, a new all-time high
  • 1-month growth: 0
  • 3-month growth: +9,000

State governments (includes education, such as at state universities).

  • Total employment: 5.3 million
  • 1-month growth: +17,000
  • 3-month growth: +73,000

Local governments – employment is dominated by education, such as teachers. After the pandemic, school districts struggled with large-scale teacher shortages. Employment is still not back where it had been before the pandemic, and some school districts still struggle with teacher shortages.

  • Total employment: 14.7 million
  • 1-month growth: +32,000
  • 3-month growth: +95,000

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