Planet Money
8:21 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Where The Jobs Are (And Where They Aren't), In 1 Graph

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 5:21 pm

It's been five and a half years since the recession started, and four years since the recovery began. It's been a brutal time for the U.S. job market (obviously), and the picture is still pretty bleak.

But when you look at individual industries, you see a more nuanced picture. Many industries have lost jobs, but others are employing more people than ever.

To see how the jobs picture has changed since the start of the recession, we created the graph below. Here's how it works:

  • The size of the circle represents the number of jobs in each industry today.
  • The circle's position on the vertical axis shows the number of jobs lost or gained since the start of the recession.
  • The circle's position on the horizontal axis shows average hourly earnings for workers as of this spring.

A few notes on some key sectors from the graph:

Manufacturing lost 2 million jobs during the recession. The sector has actually added back about half a million jobs during the recovery, and average wages are over $24 an hour. But many of the jobs that disappeared during the recession are probably gone forever. Even before the recession, automation and global competition led U.S. manufacturers to cut jobs, even as they increased output. That trend is likely to continue.

Construction is the other big sector that really got wallopped. This isn't surprising, given that the recession followed a massive real estate bubble that triggered an unsustainable building boom. Still, it's worth noting that even now, with the housing sector coming back to life and adding jobs again, there are nearly a million fewer construction jobs than there were a decade ago.

Health care is the big bright spot in the jobs picture. The sector has added 1.5 million jobs since the start of the recession, and average earnings of over $26 an hour are solid.

Leisure and hospitality mostly means jobs at restaurants and bars. The sector has more jobs now than ever. But average earnings, at about $13 an hour, are low.

Mining and logging includes the oil and gas industries, which have been booming, and where average hourly earnings are nearly $30 an hour. But, as the graph shows, even after strong growth, the sector has fewer than 1 million jobs. It just isn't big enough to make much of dent in the national jobs picture.

Professional and technical services includes a big swath of the tech industry as well as architects and lawyers and other skilled professionals. Not surprisingly, average hourly earnings are high, at about $37 an hour.

For More: The data in this post come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has tons of great jobs data. The earnings figures are here; jobs figures are here. One limitation: The BLS doesn't collect earnings data for government jobs. That's why government isn't listed on the graphic.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.