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March 2006, Vol. 129, No. 3
Occupational changes during the 20th century
Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker
With occupation data from the 2000 census now available, it is an appropriate time to analyze occupational employment trends over the 20th century. The shift from a workforce composed mostly of manual workers to one comprising mostly white-collar and service workers is generally known. This article reveals just how radical that shift has been. It also shows that many of the projected employment changes over the 2004–14 period1 are continuations of trends that began in the previous century.
The article analyzes changes in occupational staffing patterns—occupations and occupation groups as a percent of total employment in the economy—rather than numeric changes.2 This methodology indexes employment growth to the average for all occupations over the period. Occupations and occupational groups growing faster than average appear as an increasing proportion of total employment, those growing as fast as average as a constant percent, and slower growing or declining ones as a declining percent.3 For clarity, however, numeric employment data also are given.
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1 See the November 2005 Review.
2 In the Bureau’s biennial projections, an industry-occupation matrix is used to analyze occupations as a percentage of total employment in each industry. (See Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004–05, Bulletin 2570 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2004), pp. 663–64; and Occupational Projections and Training Data, 2004–05, Bulletin 2572 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2004), pp. 42–43; on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/emp.)
3 Those with a numeric decline in employment have a staffing pattern decline of 70 percent or more.
Related BLS programs
Occupational Employment Statistics
the Standard Occupational Classification system — May
Nature of occupational employment growth: 1983-93, The.—June 1995.
American work force, 1992-2005: Occupational employment.—Nov. 1993.
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