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In Face of Bold Jobs Report, Old Jobs Stay Popular

The most recent jobs report earned mostly great reviews:

  • Reuters: “Dollar, bond yields jump on robust U.S. jobs data”
  • New York Times: “Amid Gains in Jobs and Pay, Americans Rejoin the Work Force”
  • The Telegraph (UK): “US enjoys bumper job growth with strongest quarter since 1997”
  • Los Angeles Times: “Strong U.S. jobs report shows best wage growth in six years”

Coverage focused not only on the number of jobs, but the quality. The LA Times reported President Obama: “In the single most hopeful sign for middle-class families, wages are starting to go up again. So America is poised for another good year.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 9.38.24 PMAgainst these headlines (actually, just in advance of these headlines), NPR’s Planet Money offered a fascinating look at “The Most Common* Job In Every State.”

NPR included the asterisk because, “We used data from the Census Bureau, which has two catch-all categories: “managers not elsewhere classified” and “salespersons not elsewhere classified.” Because those categories are broad and vague to the point of meaninglessness, we excluded them from our map.” It’s an important point, and should be considered.

But even considering the asterisk, the report important and interesting. And the map they created is even better. By hitting “play,” viewers can see how the most popular jobs have evolved in each state from 1978-2014.

What immediately jumps out is: We used to have a lot of secretaries; now we have a lot of truck drivers. As NPR reports:
Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation.

Regional specialization has declined. So jobs that are needed everywhere — like truck drivers and schoolteachers — have moved up the list of most-common jobs.

The prominence of truck drivers is partly due to the way the government categorizes jobs.

As for secretaries, they rose with the service economy of the 80s and fell with the computer age.

A couple of states are outliers — Colorado, Utah and others boast Computer Software Developers; for some states, Primary School Teachers reign. And, of course, the most popular job in Washington D.C. is lawyer.