Retail salespersons and cashiers were the occupations with the largest employment in May 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These two occupations combined made up nearly 6 percent of total U.S. employment, with employment levels of 4.5 million and 3.3 million, respectively.
The data in this release are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, which provides employment and wage estimates by area and by industry for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups, 94 minor occupational groups, 458 broad occupations, and 821 detailed occupations.
–The 10 largest occupations accounted for 21 percent of total employment in May 2013. In addition to retail salespersons and cashiers, the largest occupations included combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; general office clerks; registered nurses; waiters and waitresses; and customer service representatives.
–Most of the largest occupations were relatively low paying. Of the 10 largest occupations, only registered nurses, with an annual mean wage of $68,910, had an average wage above the U.S. all-occupations mean of $22.33 per hour or $46,440 annually. Annual mean wages for the rest of the 10 largest occupations ranged from $18,880 for combined food preparation and serving workers to $34,000 for secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive.
–Office and administrative support was the largest occupational group, making up about 16 percent of total U.S. employment. The next largest groups were sales and related occupations and food preparation and serving related occupations, which made up nearly 11 percent and 9 percent of U.S. employment, respectively. Seven of the 10 largest occupations were in one of these three groups. Legal occupations and life, physical, and social science occupations were among the smallest occupational groups, each making up less than 1 percent of total employment.
–The highest paying occupational groups were management, legal, computer and mathematical, and architecture and engineering occupations. Most detailed occupations in these groups were also high paying. For example, all 19 computer and mathematical occupations had average wages above the U.S. all-occupations mean, ranging from $50,450 for computer user support specialists to $109,260 for computer and information research scientists.
–The lowest paying occupational groups were food preparation and serving related; farming, fishing, and forestry; personal care and service; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; and healthcare support occupations. Annual mean wages for these groups ranged from $21,580 for food preparation and serving related occupations to $28,300 for healthcare support occupations. With few exceptions, the detailed occupations in these groups had below-average wages. For example, occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants were the only healthcare support occupations with mean wages above the U.S. all-occupations mean.