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How Industries Differ, an Overview
The U.S. economy is made up of industries with diverse characteristics. For each industry covered in the Career Guide, detailed information is provided about specific characteristics: The nature of the industry, working conditions, employment, occupational composition, training and advancement requirements, earnings, and job outlook. This chapter provides an overview of these characteristics for the economy as a whole.
Nature of the Industry
Industries are defined by the goods and services they provide. Because workers in the United States produce such a wide variety of products and services, the types of industries in the U.S. economy range widely, from aerospace manufacturing to motion picture production. Although many of these industries are related, each industry has a unique combination of occupations, production techniques, inputs and outputs, and business characteristics. Understanding the nature of the industry is important, because it is this unique combination that determines working conditions, educational requirements, and the job outlook for each of the industries discussed in the Career Guide.
Industries are comprised of many different places of work, called establishments, which range from large factories and office complexes employing thousands of workers to small businesses employing only a few workers. Not to be confused with "companies," which are legal entities, establishments are physical locations where people work, such as the branch office of a bank. Establishments that produce similar goods or services are grouped together into industries. Industries that produce related types of goods or services are, in turn, grouped together into major industry divisions. These are further grouped into the goods-producing sector (agriculture, forestry, and fishing; mining; construction; and manufacturing) or the service-producing sector (transportation, communications, and public utilities; wholesale and retail trade; finance, insurance, and real estate; services; and government).
Distinctions within industries are also varied. Each industry is comprised of a number of subdivisions, which are determined largely by differences in production processes. An easily recognized example of these distinctions is in the food processing industry, which is made up of subdivisions that produce meat products, preserved fruits and vegetables, bakery items, beverages, and dairy products, among others. Each of these subdivisions requires workers with varying skills and employ unique production techniques. Another example of these distinctions is in public utilities, which employs workers in establishments that provide electricity, sanitary services, water, and natural gas. Working conditions and establishment characteristics often differ widely in each of these smaller subdivisions.
There were more than 7 million business establishments in the United States in 1999. The average size of these establishments varies widely across industries. Among industry divisions, manufacturing included many industries having among the highest employment per establishment in 1999. For example, the aerospace and steel manufacturing industries each averaged 200 or more employees per establishment.
Most establishments in the wholesale trade, retail trade, finance, and services industries are small, averaging fewer than 20 employees per establishment. Exceptions are the scheduled air transportation industry with 166.8 employees and colleges, universities, and professional schools with 433.4. In addition, wide differences within industries can exist. Hospitals, for example, employ an average of 717.5 workers, while doctors offices employ an average of 8.7. Similarly, although there is an average of 13 employees per establishment for all of retail trade, department stores employ an average of 164.3 people.
Establishments in the United States are predominantly small; 54.2 percent of all establishments employed fewer than 5 workers in 1999. The medium-sized to large establishments employ a greater proportion of all workers. For example, establishments that employed 50 or more workers accounted for only 5.4 percent of all establishments, yet employed 59 percent of all workers. The large establishmentsthose with more than 500 workersaccounted for only 0.3 percent of all establishments, but employed 20.3 percent of all workers. Table 1 presents the percent distribution of employment according to establishment size.
Establishment size can play a role in the characteristics of each job. Large establishments generally offer workers greater occupational mobility and advancement potential, whereas small establishments may provide their employees with broader experience by requiring them to assume a wider range of responsibilities. Also, small establishments are distributed throughout the Nation; every locality has a few small businesses. Large establishments, in contrast, employ more workers and are less common, but they play a much more prominent role in the economies of the areas in which they are located.
Just as the goods and services of each industry are different, working conditions in industries can vary significantly. In some industries, the work setting is quiet, temperature-controlled, and virtually hazard free. Other industries are characterized by noisy, uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous work environments. Some industries require long workweeks and shift work; in many industries, standard 35-to 40-hour workweeks are common. Still other industries can be seasonal, requiring long hours during busy periods and abbreviated schedules during slower months. These varying conditions usually are determined by production processes, establishment size, and the physical location of work.
One of the most telling indicators of working conditions is an industry's injury and illness rate. Overexertion, being struck by an object, and falls on the same level, are among the most common incidents causing work-related injury or illness. In 1999, approximately 5.7 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses were reported throughout private industry. Among major industry divisions, manufacturing had the highest rate of injury and illness-9.2 cases for every 100 full time workerswhile finance, insurance, and real estate had the lowest rate1.8 cases. About 5,900 work-related fatalities were reported in 2000; transportation incidents, contact with objects and equipment, assaults and violent acts, and falls were the most common events resulting in fatal injuries. Table 2 presents industries with the highest and lowest rates of nonfatal injury and illness.
Work schedules are another important reflection of working conditions, and the operational requirements of each industry lead to large differences in hours worked and in part-time versus full-time status. In retail trade, 28.9 percent of employees worked part time in 2000compared with only 4.4 percent in manufacturing. Table 3 presents industries having relatively high and low percentages of part-time workers.
The low proportion of part-time workers in some manufacturing industries often reflects the continuous nature of the production processes that makes it difficult to adapt the volume of production to short-term fluctuations in product demand. Once begun, it is costly to halt these processes; machinery must be tended and materials must be moved continuously. For example, the chemical manufacturing industry produces many different chemical products through controlled chemical reactions. These processes require chemical operators to monitor and adjust the flow of materials into and out of the line of production. Because production may continue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, under the watchful eyes of chemical operators who work in shifts, full-time workers are more likely to be employed.
Retail trade and service industries, on the other hand, have seasonal cycles marked by various events, such as school openings or important holidays, that affect the hours worked. During busy times of the year, longer hours are common, whereas slack periods lead to cutbacks and shorter workweeks. Jobs in these industries are generally appealing to students and others who desire flexible, part-time schedules.
The total number of jobs in the United States in 2000 was 145.6 million. This included 11.5 million self-employed workers, 169,000 unpaid workers in family businesses, and more than 133.9 million wage and salary workersincluding primary and secondary job holders. The total number of jobs is projected to increase to 167.8 million by 2010, and wage and salary jobs are projected to account for more than 155.9 million of them.
As shown in table 4, although wage and salary jobs are the vast majority of all jobs, they are not evenly divided among the various industries. The services major industry division is the largest source of employment, with more than 50 million workers, followed by the wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing major industry divisions. Among the industries covered in the Career Guide, wage and salary employment ranged from only 216,000 in cable and other pay television services to 11.8 million in educational services. Three industrieseducational services, health services, and eating and drinking placestogether accounted for almost 31 million jobs, or nearly a quarter of the Nations employment.
Although workers of all ages are employed in each industry, certain industries tend to possess workers of distinct age groups. For the reasons mentioned above, retail trade employs a relatively high proportion of younger workers to fill part-time and temporary positions. The manufacturing sector, on the other hand, has a relatively high median age because many jobs in the sector require a number of years to learn and perfect skills that do not easily transfer to other firms. Also, manufacturing employment has been declining, providing fewer opportunities for younger workers to get jobs. As a result, almost one-third of the workers in retail trade were 24 years of age or younger in 2000, compared with only 10 percent of workers in manufacturing. Table 5 contrasts the age distribution of workers in all industries with the distributions in five very different industries.
Employment in some industries is concentrated in one region of the country, and job opportunities in these industries should be best in the States in which their establishments are located. Such industries are often located near a source of raw materials upon which the industries rely. For example, oil and gas extraction jobs are concentrated in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma; many textile mill products manufacturing jobs are found in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina; and a significant proportion of motor vehicle and equipment manufacturing jobs are located in Michigan. On the other hand, some industriessuch as grocery stores and educational serviceshave jobs distributed throughout the Nation, reflecting population density in different areas.
Occupations in the Industry
As mentioned above, the occupations found in each industry depend on the types of services provided or goods produced. For example, construction companies require skilled trades workers to build and renovate buildings, so these companies employ a large number of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, and sheet metal workers. Other occupations common to the construction sector include construction equipment operators and mechanics, installers, and repairers. Retail trade, on the other hand, displays and sells manufactured goods to consumers, so this sector hires numerous sales clerks and other workers, including nearly 5 out of 6 cashiers. Table 6 shows the major industry divisions and the occupational groups which predominate in the division.
The Nations occupational distribution clearly is influenced by its industrial structure, yet there are many occupations, such as general manager or secretary, which are found in all industries. In fact, some of the largest occupations in the U.S. economy are dispersed across many industries. Because nearly every industry relies on administrative support, for example, this occupational group is the largest in the Nation (see table 7). Other large occupational groups include service occupations, professional specialty workers, and operators, fabricators, and laborers.
Training and Advancement
Workers prepare for employment in many ways, but the most fundamental form of job training in the United States is a high school education. Fully 87.5 percent of the Nations workforce possessed a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2000. As the premium placed on education in todays economy increases, workers are responding by pursuing additional training. In 2000, 28.8 percent of the Nations workforce had some college or an associates degree, while an additional 27.5 percent continued in their studies and attained a bachelors degree or higher. In addition to these types of formal education, other sources of qualifying training include formal company training, informal on-the-job training, correspondence courses, the Armed Forces, and friends, relatives, and other nonwork-related training.
The unique combination of training required to succeed in each industry is determined largely by the industrys occupational composition. For example, machine operators in manufacturing generally need little formal education after high school, but sometimes complete considerable on-the-job training. These requirements by major industry division are clearly demonstrated in table 8.
Persons with no more than a high school diploma accounted for about 63.8 percent of all workers in agriculture, forestry, and fishing; 64.7 percent in construction; 53.4 percent in manufacturing; and 44.8 percent in wholesale trade and 57.4 in retail trade. On the other hand, those who had acquired at least some training at the college level accounted for 72.4 percent of all workers in government; 71.4 percent in finance, insurance, and real estate; and 75.1 percent in professional and related services
Education and training are also important factors in the variety of advancement paths found in different industries. In general, workers who complete additional on-the-job training or education help their chances of being promoted. In much of the manufacturing sector, for example, production workers who receive training in management and computer skills increase their likelihood of being promoted to supervisors. Other factors which may figure prominently in the industries covered in the Career Guide include the size of the establishment or company, institutionalized career tracks, and the skills and aptitude of each worker. Each industry has some unique advancement paths, so persons who seek jobs in particular industries should be aware of how these paths may later shape their careers.
Like other characteristics, earnings differ from industry to industry, the result of a highly complicated process that relies on a number of factors. For example, earnings may vary due to the occupations in the industry, average hours worked, geographical location, industry profits, union affiliation, and educational requirements. In general, wages are highest in metropolitan areas to compensate for the higher cost of living. And, as would be expected, industries that employ relatively few unskilled minimum-wage or part-time workers tend to have higher earnings.
A good illustration of these differences is shown by the earnings of all wage and salary workers in petroleum refining, which averaged $1,099 a week in 2000, and those in eating and drinking places, where the weekly average was $177. These differences are so large because petroleum refining establishments employ more highly skilled, full-time workers, while eating and drinking places employ many lower skilled, part-time workers. In addition, many workers in eating and drinking places are able to supplement their low wages with money they receive as tips, which is not included in the industry wages data. Table 9 highlights the industries with the highest and lowest average weekly earnings.
Employee benefits, once a minor addition to wages and salaries, continue to grow in diversity and cost. In addition to traditional benefitsincluding paid vacations, life and health insurance, and pensionsmany employers now offer various benefits to accommodate the needs of a changing labor force. Such benefits are child care, employee assistance programs that provide counseling for personal problems, and wellness programs that encourage exercise, stress management, and self-improvement. Benefits vary among occupational groups, full and part-time workers, public and private sector workers, regions, unionized and nonunionized workers, and small and large establishments. Data indicate that full-time workers and those in medium-size and large establishmentsthose with 100 or more workersreceive better benefits than part-time workers and those in smaller establishments.
Union penetration of the workforce varies widely by industry, and it also may play a role in earnings and benefits. In 2000, about 15 percent of workers throughout the Nation were union members or covered by union contracts. As table 10 demonstrates, union affiliation of workers varies widely by industry. Approximately a third of the workers in government and transportation, communications, and public utilities are union members or are covered by union contracts, compared with fewer than 4 percent in business and repair services; agriculture, forestry, and fishing; and finance, insurance, and real estate.
Total employment in the United States is projected to increase by about 15 percent over the 2000-10 period. Employment growth, however, is only one source of job openings; the total number of openings in any industry also depends on the industry's current employment level and its need to replace workers who leave their jobs. Throughout the economy, in fact, replacement needs will create more job openings than will employment growth. Employment size is a major determinant of job openings-larger industries generally provide more openings. The occupational composition of an industry is another factor. Industries with high concentrations of professional, technical, and other jobs that require more formal educationoccupations in which workers tend to leave their jobs less frequentlygenerally have fewer openings resulting from replacement needs. On the other hand, more replacement openings generally occur in industries with high concentrations of service, laborer, and other jobs that require little formal education and have lower wages because workers in these jobs are more likely to leave their occupations.
Employment growth is determined largely by changes in the demand for the goods and services produced by an industry, worker productivity, and foreign competition. Each industry is affected by a different set of variables that impacts the number and composition of jobs that will be available. Even within an industry, employment in different occupations may grow at different rates. For example, changes in technology, production methods, and business practices in an industry might eliminate some jobs, while creating others. Some industries may be growing rapidly overall, yet opportunities for workers in occupations that are adversely affected by technological change could be stagnant. Similarly, employment of some occupations may be declining in the economy as a whole, yet may be increasing in a rapidly growing industry.
As shown above in table 4, employment growth rates over the next decade will vary widely among industries. Employment in goods-producing industries is expected to increase as growth in agricultural services, construction, and manufacturing is partially offset by declining employment in agricultural production and mining and quarrying. Rapid growth in agricultural services will be driven by its landscaping and veterinary services components. Growth in construction employment will stem from new factory construction as existing facilities are modernized; from new school construction, reflecting growth in the school-age population; and from infrastructure improvements, such as road and bridge construction. Employment in agricultural production and mining and quarrying is expected to decline due to laborsaving technology. Reliance on foreign sources of energy also is expected to play a role in employment declines in mining and in oil and gas extraction.
Manufacturing employment will increase slightly, as strong demand continues for high technology electrical goods and pharmaceuticals despite improvements in production technology and rising imports. Apparel manufacturing is projected to lose about 103,000 jobs over the 2000-10 period-more than any other manufacturing industrydue primarily to increasing imports. But other manufacturing industries with strong domestic markets and export potential are expected to experience increases in employment. The drug manufacturing and aerospace manufacturing industries are two examples. Sales of drugs are expected to increase with growth in the population, particularly among the elderly, and the introduction of new drugs to the market. An increase in air traffic, coupled with the need to replace aging aircraft will generate strong sales for commercial aircraft. Both drug and aerospace manufacturing also have large export markets.
Growth in overall employment will result primarily from growth in service-producing industries over the 2000-10 period, almost all of which are expected to have increasing employment. Rising employment in these industries will be driven by services industriesthe largest and fastest growing major industry groupwhich are projected to provide almost 2 out of 3 new jobs across the Nation. Health, education, and personnel supply services will account for 6.3 million of these new jobs. In addition, employment in the Nation's fastest growing industrycomputer and data processing servicesis expected to nearly double, adding another 1.8 million jobs. Job growth in the services sector will result from overall population growth, the rise in the elderly and school-age populations, and the trend toward contracting out for computer, personnel, and other business services.
Wholesale and retail trade is expected to add 3.9 million jobs over the coming decade. More than 776,000 of these jobs will arise in wholesale trade, reflecting growth both in trade and in the overall economy. Retail trade is expected to add 3.1 million jobs over the 2000-10 period, the result of increases in both population and personal income. Although most retail stores are expected to add employees, nonstore retailers will experience the fastest growth rate35 percentas electronic commerce and mail-order sales account for an increasing portion of retail sales. Eating and drinking places will have the largest number of new jobs, nearly 1.5 million.
Employment in transportation, communications, and public utilities is projected to increase by nearly 1.26 million new jobs. The trucking and warehousing industry will have the biggest increase407,000 jobs. Trucking industry growth will be fueled by growth in the volume of goods that need to be shipped as the economy expands. Air transportation is expected to generate nearly 319,000 jobs. Air transportation will expand as consumer and business demand increases, reflecting a growing population and increased business activity. Demand for new telecommunications services, such as Internet and wireless communications, will lead to an expansion of the telecommunications infrastructure. Employment growth is projected to add 143,000 jobs. While radio and television broadcasting will show average growth due to consolidations in the industry, employment of cable and other pay-television companies will increase by 51 percent as they upgrade their systems to deliver a wider array of communication and programming services.
Overall employment growth in finance, insurance, and real estate is expected to be around 9 percent, with close to 687,000 jobs added by 2010. Securities and commodities will be the fastest growing industry in this group, adding more than 152,000 jobs. A growing interest in investing and the popularity of 401(k) and other pension plans are fueling increases in this industry. In contrast, employment in the largest industry in this group, banking, will decrease by 1.5 percent, or -31,000 jobs, as technological advances and the increasing use of electronic banking reduce the need for large administrative support staffs. Nondepository institutions-including personal and business credit institutions, as well as mortgage banks-are expected to grow as fast as the average, adding 111,800 jobs. Insurance carriers will grow more slowly than average, increasing by only 42,600 jobs.
All 702,000 new government jobs are expected to arise in State and local government, reflecting growth in the population and its demand for public services. In contrast, the Federal Government is expected to lose more than 145,000 jobs over the 2000-10 period, as efforts continue to cut costs by contracting out services and giving States more responsibility for administering federally funded programs.
In sum, recent changes in the economy are having far-reaching and complex effects on employment in each of the industries covered in the Career Guide. Jobseekers should be aware of these changes, keeping alert for developments that can affect job opportunities in industries and the variety of occupations which are found in each industry. For more detailed information on specific occupations, consult the 2002-03 Edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which provides information on 275 occupations.
|The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor.|