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Occupational Changes During the 20th Century

Authors:

Abstract

Professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers (except private household set-vice workers) grew from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment between 1910 and 2000; laborers (except mine laborers), private household service workers, and farmers lost the most jobs over the period.
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 35
With occupation data from the 2000
census now available, it is an appro-
priate 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 pro-
jected employment changes over the 2004–14
period1 are continuations of trends that began
in the previous century.
The article analyzes changes in occupa-
tional staffing patterns—occupations and
occupation groups as a percent of total em-
ployment in the economy—rather than numeric
changes.2 This methodology indexes em-
ployment growth to the average for all occu-
pations over the period. Occupations and
occupational groups growing faster than aver-
age 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 clar-
ity, however, numeric employment data also are
given.
Data and methodology
Occupational data presented in this article are
from decennial censuses, adjusted by the In-
tegrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS)
from the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota
Population Center.4 Every census taken in the 20th
century used a different system to classify
occupations, so data between censuses are not
necessarily comparable. IPUMS used the 1950 Index
of Occupations and Industries to impose an
occupational scheme on data from each census.
Because of definitional changes and because some
occupations in the 1950 index were components of
broader occupations in other years, it was difficult
to determine some decade-to-decade employment
changes. That is, while the broad trends shown
for larger occupation groups and many individual
occupations are believed to be relatively accurate,
some decade-to-decade changes may reflect data
comparability problems between surveys rather
than indicating actual changes in employment.5
Nevertheless, data estimates are shown to the
closest thousand; readers should be aware that
actual employment may have been somewhat
different.
The 1950 census classified all workers into 269
occupation categories, hereafter referred to as
occupations;6 the same census also gives em-
ployment estimates for each occupation. In its
effort to create a consistent time series, IPUMS
reduced the number of occupations to 230. The
1950 census arranged all occupations into 11 major
groups, as shown in chart 1, but, with a few excep-
tions, no subgroups—all occupations were just
listed alphabetically.7 To better analyze growth
patterns within these 11 major groups, this article
classifies the majority of occupations into sub-
groups, closely corresponding to 2000 Standard
Occupational Changes
Ian D. Wyatt
and
Daniel E. Hecker
Professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers
(except private household service workers) grew from one-quarter
to three-quarters of total employment between 1910 and 2000;
laborers (except mine laborers), private household service
workers, and farmers lost the most jobs over the period
Occupational changes
during the 20th century
Ian D. Wyatt is an
economist in the
Office of
Occupational
Statistics and
Employment
Projections, Bureau of
Labor Statistics; Daniel
E. Hecker is an
economist formerly in
the same office. E-mail:
wyatt.ian@bls.gov
36 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
0 5 10 15 20 25
0 5 10 15 20 25
Chart 1. Proportional employment in occupational categories, 1910 and 2000
Percent
Professional, technical,
and kindred
Service workers,
except private household
Clerical and kindred
Managers, officials,
and proprietors
Sales workers
Craftsmen, foremen,
and kindred
Operatives and kindred
Laborers, except
farmers and mine
Private household
service workers
Farmers
Farm laborers
Percent
1910
2000
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 37
Occupational Classification (SOC) major or minor groups.8
Some 1950 occupation and group names are gender
specific or differ in other ways from those in current use, and
their coverage of occupations also may differ. In addition, in
1950, some occupations were classified into major groups
different from those they were classified into in 2000. For
example, cashiers, judged a sales occupation in 2000, consti-
tuted a clerical occupation in 1950, and the category of farm-
ers and farm managers, which formed a minor occupation
group within management occupations in the 2000 census,
was one of the 11 major occupation groups in the 1950 classi-
fication. Therefore, the 2000 employment levels shown in this
article for certain occupations or occupation groups may not
match the employment levels listed in the 2000 census for
those same occupations or occupation groups.
The 1900 and 1930 data sets were unavailable from IPUMS
at the time the research that led to this article was being
carried out. Therefore, the time series begins with 1910 and
covers eight additional data points: the year 1920 and the
years 1940 through 2000. An employment status filter was
applied to the 1940–2000 samples, eliminating those who were
not actively employed. During that period, the census asked
these people what the last occupation they held was if it was
within the previous 5 or 10 years (depending upon which
census year was in question). Including those employed
within the previous 5 or 10 years would create some distor-
tions, and the data obtained would not match other publicly
available data. By contrast, no filter was applied to the 1910
or 1920 data. In both of these censuses, the question on
occupation was restricted to those who were either employed
or actively looking for work. Those who were retired or out of
the labor force for any other reason were not included. When
the employment filter was applied to the 1910 sample, certain
occupations nearly disappeared. Applying an employment
filter to the 1920 survey was not possible, because that census
did not ask any question about the respondent’s employment
status. Therefore, the 1910 and 1920 data include some
persons not employed in those years. Altogether, the census
data show that employment increased 2.3 times over the 9
decades, from 39.2 million to 129.7 million.
Occupation categories
Occupational staffing patterns changed radically over the
1910–2000 period in response to changes in the mix of goods
and services produced and the methods used to produce
them. Of the 11 major occupation groups listed in the 1950
census, professional, technical, and kindred workers had the
largest percent (and numeric) increase, while the farmer and
farm laborer groups had the largest percent (and numeric)
decreases. (See chart 1.) Professional, technical, and kindred
workers rose from ninth largest to the largest occupation
group, while the two farm groups dropped from largest and
third largest, respectively, to the smallest, except for private
household workers.9
Five of the major occupation groups increased as a share
of the total, while six declined. All of the ones that declined,
except for private household workers, consist of occupations
that produce, repair, or transport goods and are concentrated
in the agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, and
transportation industries. The five that increased are the so-
called white-collar occupations, plus service workers, except
private household. The four major groups that are white-
collar occupations include mostly occupations having to do
with information, ideas, or people (many in the service group
also work with people); are more concentrated in services-
producing industries; and, at least for professional and
managerial occupations, have higher-than-average education
requirements. In aggregate, the five groups that increased
went from 24 percent to 75 percent of total employment, while
the six groups that declined went from 76 percent to 25
percent over the 90-year period.10
The analysis that follows presents charts and discusses
decade-by-decade trends for
the aforementioned 11 major occupation groups;
selected occupation subgroups, generally
corresponding to major or minor groups in the 2000
SOC system; and
individual occupations that are large, that help
explain group trends, or that run counter to group
trends.
Occupations and occupation groups are discussed in the
order of their staffing pattern changes, from the largest in-
crease to the largest decrease. Those which increased as a
proportion of the total tend to be concentrated in industries
that grew more rapidly than average or that were a growing
proportion of employment in their industries. For example,
attendants in hospitals and in medical and dental offices grew
particularly fast, because they were employed in rapidly
growing health services industries and, over the century, they
assumed many routine duties formerly performed by physi-
cians, nurses, and other healthcare workers. In contrast, rail-
road brakemen and switchmen declined very sharply, both
because demand for railroad services grew much more slowly
than average and because their work became increasingly
mechanized.
Changes in the mix of goods and services produced, in
technology, and in business practices, as well as broad
economic and social trends, are discussed to the extent that
they explain changes in occupational staffing patterns. For
example, the mechanization of the production of goods and
services and the development of technology are discussed in
38 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
the sections on production operatives and engineers, respectively;
the spread of motor vehicle use is discussed in the context of road
vehicle operators, mechanics and repairers, and police; and the
growth of large bureaucratic organizations is examined in the
discussion of accountants, clerical workers, and managers.
Some occupation groups exhibited sharp, steady growth as
a percent of total employment over the entire period.11 These
occupations include professional occupations overall and
several professional subgroups, such as accountants, college
teachers, and healthcare workers except for physicians, as well
as protective service workers. Computer specialists had
especially sharp growth from 1960, when data on that occupation
were first collected. Managers, officials, and proprietors also
grew, but more slowly. Other groups grew rapidly after 1910, but
slowed some time after midcentury. Among these groups are
engineers; teachers, except college; and food service workers.
Sales workers, mechanics and repairers, and road vehicle
operators stopped growing altogether. Judges and lawyers’ and
physicians and surgeons’ employment showed no growth
through 1970, but rose—particularly sharply for lawyers—after
1970. For both groups, the early lack of growth was due, at least
in part, to artificial limits on supply. (See the discussion on pages
10–11.)
Both operatives and clerical workers rose as a proportion
of employment for a number of decades, but then declined.
Production and other craftsmen, laborers, mine operatives,
and farmers and farm managers all rose from 1910 to 1920, but
then declined for the rest of the century, some sharply. Con-
struction workers declined slowly throughout the period.
Farm laborers and foremen, as well as private household
workers, dropped sharply after 1910. As a result, the occupa-
tional staffing patterns in 2000 were vastly different from
those in 1910.
Professional, technical, and kindred workers
Between 1910 and 2000, the employment of professional,
technical, and kindred workers increased more than fourfold
as a proportion of total employment, from 4.4 percent to 23.3
percent. (See chart 2.) Numerically, employment grew from
1.7 million to 30.2 million. Industrialization, technological
development, and the growing size and complexity of organi-
zations; rapid growth in healthcare, education, and social
services; and the expanded role of government all contributed
to the increase. Charts 3–5 show occupational detail for this
major group. The occupation groups correspond to two- and
three-digit 2000 SOC categories included in the professional
and related occupations aggregation.12
Computer specialists did not exist in 1910, and there were
few, if any, in 1950, so they do not appear in the 1950 census
Chart 2. Proportion of total employment of professional, technical, and kindred workers, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
5.0
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
0.0
5.0
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 39
Chart 3. Proportion of total employment of computer specialists; accountants and auditors; college
presidents, professors, and instructors; and engineers, 1910–2000
NOTE:Employment of computer specialists was first included as an occupation in 1960. Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and
1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
Percent Computer specialists
Accountants and auditors
College presidents, professors, and instructors
Engineers
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
Percent
40 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
Chart 4. Proportion of total employment in healthcare and proportion of total employment of selected
healthcare occupations, 1910–2000
Percent PercentHealthcare
Selected healthcare occupations
Nurses, professional
Attendants, hospital and physicians’ and dentists’ offices
Physicians and surgeons
Medical and dental technicians
Therapists and healers, n.e.c.
Attendants, hospital
Therapists and heal
Therapists and heal
Medical and dental
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 41
Chart 5. Proportion of total employment of lawyers and judges and of teachers, except college, 1910–
2000
Percent PercentLawyers and judges
Teachers, except college
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
4.5
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
4.5
42 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
or the IPUMS classification system. The first commercial
electronic computer was delivered in 1951, and employment
data on computer specialists were first collected in the 1960
Census.13
Computer specialists grew 95 times as a proportion of total
employment between 1960 and 2000, from 0.02 percent to 1.92
percent. (See chart 3, top panel.) Employment grew from 12,000
to 2,496,000.14 The rapid development of computer tech-
nology—both more advanced hardware and software and
the growth of networks, including the Internet—plus sharply
falling computer prices led to the spread of computer use to
almost all areas of the economy.
Accountants and auditors grew 13 times as a proportion
of total employment between 1910 and 2000, from 0.1 percent
to 1.4 percent. (See chart 3, second panel.) Employment grew
from 39,000 to 1,795,000.15 The increasing complexity of
business and government operations; more sophisticated
management techniques that required more accounting data;
greater government regulation regarding financial disclosure,
mergers, pensions, and other issues; and the development
of complex tax laws all contributed to the growth of this
occupation.
College presidents, professors, and instructors grew 12
times as a proportion of total employment between 1910 and
2000, from 0.07 percent to 0.87 percent. (See chart 3, third
panel.) The number grew 43 times, from 26,000 to 1,132,000.
Over the 9 decades, college enrollments also grew 43 times,
from 355,000 to 14,979,000, while the proportion of the
population aged 25 and older with 4 or more years of college
grew 9.5 times, from 2.7 percent to 25.6 percent.
The more rapid growth from 1960 to 1970 reflects the
attendance of the 1946–64 baby-boom generation. From fall
1959 to fall 1969, enrollments in degree-granting institutions
more than doubled, from 3.64 million to 8 million. The sharp
increase from 1990 to 2000 reflects a sharp rise in enrollments,
as well as growth in the proportion of part-time professors
and instructors. The latter growth may have spread the teach-
ing load over more teachers.
Engineers increased 9 times as a proportion of total
employment between 1910 and 2000, from 0.2 percent to 1.8
percent. (See chart 3, bottom panel.) Their number grew from
74,000 to 2,276,000. Rapid industrialization and growing
technological sophistication, which increasingly depended
on the work of engineers, fueled the growth. Prior to 1910,
much innovation was carried out by self-taught inventors,
such as Thomas Edison, but it increasingly began to be carried
out by engineers, many in research-and-development labora-
tories. A rapid growth of manufacturing, including the new
motor vehicle and aircraft industries; the development of a
vast infrastructure of roads, bridges, and electric power and
other utilities; the growth of telephone and broadcast com-
munications and the development of computers; more com-
mercial buildings; and sharp increases in defense spending
after 1940 all fueled the growth.16 Slower growth after 1970
reflects the slower growth of manufacturing, in which
engineers are concentrated, and the use of computers in
design work, which increased engineers’ productivity.17 The
1990–2000 trend also reflects a drop in defense spending with
the end of the Cold War.
Healthcare workers grew 5 times as a proportion of total
employment between 1910 and 2000, from 1.2 percent to 7.0
percent. (See chart 4, top panel.) Employment grew from 453,000
to 9,056,000. In 1950, some occupations included in healthcare
were not part of professional and technical employment. In order
to encompass all healthcare workers within the same category,
attendants in hospitals and other institutions and practical
nurses, both of which were classified as service occupations in
the 1950 census, and attendants in physicians’ and dentists’
offices, classified as a clerical occupation in 1950, are includ-
ed among healthcare workers in this article.18
Growth occurred as improved medical technology per-
mitted many more medical problems to be treated, or to be
treated more aggressively, greater wealth and the spread of
health insurance made healthcare more affordable, and a more
long-lived population increased the need for healthcare. In
1910, most healthcare was provided in the home, with basic
tasks performed by family members. Over the century, more
and more healthcare began to be provided by healthcare
workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and offices of medical
practitioners.19 For example, there was a large increase in the
proportion of childbirths in hospitals between 1920 and
1940.20
The expansion of health insurance played a key role in the
growth of healthcare after 1940. By shifting the responsibility
for payment from the consumer to third-party payers such as
insurance companies and the government, health insurance
encouraged consumers to use more and costlier healthcare
services. Health insurance also encouraged the development
of new programs and technologies with little concern for their
true cost.21 In 1939, only 6 percent of workers had hospital
insurance; by 1950, 51 percent of workers were covered.22
Growth was stimulated during World War II, as wage controls
encouraged employers to offer benefits, such as hospital
insurance, to recruit and retain workers.23 Gradually, hospital
insurance was expanded from simply covering hospital care
to covering a wide range of healthcare, whereupon it became
health insurance in general. In 1965, with the creation of
Medicare and Medicaid, insurance expanded further to cover
the elderly and the poor. By 1970, 86 percent of Americans
had some form of health insurance,24 and that percentage
remained about the same through 2000.25
Despite growth in the proportion of healthcare workers,
overall the proportion of physicians and surgeons dropped
between 1910 and 1970, from 0.40 percent to 0.36 percent of
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 43
total employment. (See chart 4, bottom panel.) The drop was
caused by changes in healthcare delivery that increased the
productivity of physicians and surgeons and by restrictions
on medical school enrollments that limited the supply of those
professionals. Physicians’ productivity increased because
some duties were shifted to other healthcare workers and
because doctors stopped making house calls. The expansion of
medical schools and the admission of more foreign-trained
physicians and surgeons to the Nation helped raise the pro-
portion of physicians and surgeons to 0.55 percent by 2000.26
Employment grew from 155,000 in 1910 to 279,000 in 1970 and
709,000 in 2000.
The expansion of hospitals, nursing homes, and other
healthcare services and the increasing specialization in health-
care increased the proportional employment of most other
healthcare workers. Professional nurses grew from 0.3 percent to
2.1 percent of total employment, and therapists and healers grew
from 0.02 percent to 0.37 percent. (See chart 4, bottom panel.)
Attendants in hospitals and other institutions and attendants in
physicians’ and dentists’ offices grew from 0.1 percent to 2.2
percent of total employment from 1920 to 2000 (no data were
available for 1910), as they assumed more routine tasks formerly
done by physicians, nurses, and other higher paid workers. (See
chart 4, bottom panel.) Medical and dental technicians grew
from 0.14 percent to 0.99 percent of total employment between
1950 and 2000. (See chart 4, bottom panel; no data were available
before 1950.)
Lawyers and judges increased one-and-a-half times as a
proportion of total employment between 1910 and 2000, with
almost all growth coming since 1970. (See chart 5, top panel.)
Between 1910 and 1970, lawyers and judges grew from 0.29
percent to 0.35 percent of employment (reaching a peak of 0.36
percent in 1940), after which they jumped to 0.71 percent by
2000.27 Employment grew from 112,000 in 1910 to 272,000 in 1970
and 927,000 in 2000. Stiff licensing requirements (for both
individuals and law schools) and other restrictions on supply
limited growth through 1970, but as these restrictions weakened
or disappeared, the number of law graduates grew.28 At the same
time, demand for lawyers increased, as many more laws were
enacted, business activities became more complex, and society
became more litigious. Civil rights legislation for minorities,
women, and older and disabled persons; laws regarding the
environment, employer-employee relations, product safety, and
consumer protection; and higher crime and divorce rates all
contributed to the growth of lawyers and judges.29 Several
Supreme Court decisions expanded the right to a court-appointed
counsel for criminal defendants, which in turn led to increased
funds for public-defenders’ offices and a sharp increase in the
number of court-appointed defense attorneys.
Teachers below the college level30 increased 1.4 times as a
proportion of total employment between 1910 and 2000, from
1.6 percent to 3.8 percent. (See chart 5, bottom panel.) Their
number rose sevenfold, from 624,000 to 4,972,000. Decreasing
class size, as measured by pupil-to-teacher ratios, and greater
enrollments drove the growth of schoolteachers. The sharp
growth in the number of adults taking self-enrichment classes,
in subjects such as cooking, dancing, and creative writing,
as well as those taking remedial education, adult literacy, and
English as a second language, drove the growth of adult
education teachers.
The elementary and secondary school pupil-to-teacher
ratio dropped by more than half, from about 35 in 1910 to 16.4
in 2000.31 Elementary and secondary school enrollments grew
1.7 times, from 19,372,000 to 52,989,000, between 1910 and
2000, while total U.S. population grew more than twofold,
from 92,000,00032 to 281,000,000.33 The number of 5- to 18-
year-olds increased 1.3 times, from 24,361,000 in 1910 to
61,298,000 (5- to 19-year-olds) in 2000.34 Enrollments increased
even faster than the 5- to 18-year-old population, because
students remained in school for more years, on average, in
2000 than in 1910. Much of the increase in educational
attainment occurred during the middle of the century. Be-
tween 1940 and 1980, the percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds
with a high school diploma increased from 38.1 percent to
85.4 percent. (The percentage of black 25- to 29-year-olds
with a high school diploma increased from 12.3 percent to
76.7 percent.) Growth slowed after 1980, but reached 88.1
percent in 2000.35 The increase in the number of teachers
below the college level was more pronounced among sec-
ondary school teachers than among elementary school
teachers.
The drop in teachers as a proportion of the total employed
in 1950 reflects lower enrollments as the smaller age cohort of
those born during the 1930s moved through the education
system. The increases in 1960 and 1970 reflect higher enroll-
ments as the baby-boom generation, born between 1946 and
1964, moved through the system. After 1970, lower enroll-
ments, together with a continued drop in pupil-teacher ratios,
led to more modest growth in teachers as a proportion of the
total employed.
Clergy (trend not charted), one of the larger professional
occupations in 1910, decreased slightly as a proportion of
total employment between 1910 and 2000, from 0.32 percent
to 0.29 percent. Employment of clergy grew from 125,000 to
379,000.36
Service workers, except private household
Service workers, except private household, increased 2.7 times
as a proportion of total employment between 1910 and 2000,
from 3.5 percent to 13 percent. (See chart 6.) Employment
increased from 1,363,000 to 16,897,000.37 Subgroups analyzed
correspond to 2000 SOC major group (two-digit) categories:
building and grounds cleaning and maintenance service, food
44 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
preparation and serving, protective service, and personal care
and service occupations. (Health service, a fifth SOC major
group within the service occupations, which includes
attendants at hospitals and other institutions, as well as
practical nurses, was discussed earlier with professional
healthcare workers.38)
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupa-
tions grew 5.3 times as a proportion of total employment
between 1910 and 2000, from 0.4 percent to 2.4 percent.39 (See
chart 7, top panel.) Employment grew from 150,000 in 1910 to
2,676,000 in 1980 and 3,158,000 in 2000. Rapid growth in the
number of office buildings, hotels, stores, healthcare facili-
ties, apartment buildings, schools, and other structures re-
quiring cleaning and maintenance spurred the increase in
employment. It is not clear why the proportion dropped after
1980, but the numbers may reflect problems with the data.
Workers in food preparation and serving related occupa-
tions are employed in eating and drinking places, in stores
selling food prepared on the premises, and in schools, health
care, and other facilities providing prepared meals. Their
employment grew 3.4 times as a proportion of total employ-
ment between 1910 and 2000, from 0.8 percent to 3.7 percent
of total employment. (See chart 7, bottom panel.) In numbers,
their employment grew from 323,000 to 4,758,000. Bartenders,
however, declined slightly, from 0.29 percent to 0.24 percent,
with a temporary drop to 0.06 percent in 1920 as a result of
prohibition.40 (See chart 7, bottom panel.)
Greater income made food prepared away from home more
affordable; the advent of automobiles, improved roads, and
greater urbanization made food and drink purveyors more
accessible; and an increasing percentage of women working
outside of the home intensified the need for prepared meals.41
More nursing home and assisted-living facility residents and
an expansion of school lunch programs also stimulated
growth. The number of meals that Americans eat away from
home has grown from 16 percent in 1977–78 to 29 percent in
1995.42
Protective service workers increased 2.5 times as a percent
of total employment between 1910 and 2000, from 0.53 percent
to 1.85 percent. (See chart 8, top panel.) Their employment
grew from 205,000 to 2,395,000. Most growth was in police,
sheriffs, guards, and marshals. (See chart 8, top panel.)
Increased urbanization, more motor vehicle traffic, higher
crime and incarceration rates, more properties and other
assets to protect, and more laws to enforce all contributed to
the growth. The faster growth since 1960 may reflect, at least
in part, a response to the sharp increase in homicide and
robbery rates.43 The proportion of firemen doubled between
Chart 6. Proportion of total employment of service workers, except private household, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 45
Chart 7. Proportion of total employment in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance
occupations and proportion of total employment in food service occupations, 1910–2000
Percent PercentBuilding and grounds cleaning and maintenance
Food service
Bartenders
Food service occupations, total
Food service occupations, except bartenders
Bartenders
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
4.0
46 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
Chart 8. Proportion of total employment in protective service occupations and in personal care and
service occupations, 1910–2000
Percent PercentProtective service
Personal care and service
Protective services, total
Policemen, sheriffs, guards, and marshals
Firemen, fire protection
Bartenders
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 47
1910 and 1950, due to urbanization and the replacement of
volunteers with paid firefighters, but remained level there-
after. (See chart 8, top panel.)
Personal care and service occupations grew 77 percent as
a proportion of employment between 1910 and 2000, from 1.3
percent to 2.4 percent. (See chart 8, bottom panel.) Employ-
ment grew from 515,000 to 3,054,000. Most of the growth took
place after 1970 and was among professional and personal
services attendants, an occupation that includes teachers’
aides and childcare workers. Over the 90-year period, em-
ployment of barbers, beauticians, and manicurists showed
little growth, while that of porters and elevator operators
declined.
Clerical and kindred workers
Clerical and kindred workers grew 2.7 times as a proportion of
employment between 1910 and 1980, but by 2000 their proportion
had declined to 2.3 times the 1910 level. The proportion went
from 5.2 percent in 1910 to 19.3 percent in 1980 and 17.4 percent
in 2000. (See chart 9, top panel.) Employment grew from 2,026,000
in 1910 to 18,758,000 in 1980 and 22,591,000 in 2000. The greater
number, size, and complexity of business, government, and
nonprofit organizations, with more reports, transactions, records,
correspondence, and telephone calls to handle and more clients
and customers to deal with all contributed to the growth of
clerical occupations. In addition, the spread of retail self-service,
as opposed to asking a sales worker for goods stored behind a
counter and then having the worker ring up the sale, caused
cashiers, classified as a clerical occupation in 1950, to grow
rapidly, replacing sales workers.44
The growing use of computers and other electronic de-
vices, which simplified or eliminated many clerical activities,
caused the post-1980 decline. Automated switching and voice
messaging affected telephone operators; personal computers,
word-processing software, optical scanners, electronic mail,
and voice messaging, secretaries and typists; accounting and
database software, bookkeepers; ATM’s and telephone and
online banking, tellers; and computerized checkout terminals,
cashiers.45 The proportion of telephone operators declined
after 1950; stenographers, typists, and secretaries, as well as
bookkeepers, after 1970; bank tellers after 1980; and cashiers
after 1990. (See chart 9, panel 2.) However, occupations
requiring personal contact, such as bill and account collec-
tors; vehicle dispatchers and starters; attendants in physi-
cians’ and dentists’ offices; and receptionists, increased as a
percent of employment through 2000.46
Managers, officials, and proprietors
Managers, officials, and proprietors, except farm, grew 1.2
times as a proportion of total employment between 1910 and
2000, from 6.5 percent to 14.2 percent of all employment. (See
chart 10.) Their number grew from 2,503,000 to 18,392,000.
More and larger bureaucratic organizations, some with many
layers of managers, as well as the development of more so-
phisticated management techniques, spurred growth. The
proportional drop between 1950 and 1970 is due to a sharp
decline in the number of self-employed managers, as small
owner-operated establishments were replaced by larger cor-
porate-owned ones operated by salaried managers. Employ-
ment of self-employed managers, officials, and proprietors,
n.e.c, declined 22 percent between 1950 and 1960, from
2,528,000 to 1,968,000, and employment of self-employed
managers and administrators, n.e.c., declined 49 percent
between 1960 and 1970, from 1,764,000 to 902,000.47 Most of
those employed within the major SOC group of managers,
officials, and proprietors, except farm, are classified in the
census as managers, officials, and proprietors (not elsewhere
classified), limiting more detailed analysis.
Sales workers
Sales workers grew 69 percent as a proportion of total employ-
ment between 1910 and 1970, but then dropped. In 2000, the
occupation was 56 percent above the 1910 level. Sales
workers went from 4.4 percent of total employment in 1910 to
7.4 percent in 1970 and 6.8 percent in 2000. (See chart 11.)
Employment of sales workers grew from 1,695,000 in 1910 to
5,677,000 in 1970 and 8,855,000 in 2000. A rapid increase in the
volume of goods and services sold kindled the growth. The
leveling after midcentury occurred as self-service retailing
became widespread, reducing the need for sales workers and
spurring the growth of cashiers, a clerical occupation in the
1950 census.48 Computerized sales terminals, introduced
toward the end of the century, also limited growth by raising
retail sales workers’ productivity.
Craftsmen, foremen, and kindred workers
Craftsmen, foremen, and kindred workers grew 27 percent as a
proportion of total employment between 1910 and 1920, but by 2000
the group was 10 percent below the 1910 level. The occupation grew
from 10.9 percent in 1910 to 13.8 percent in 1920, dipped below 12
percent in 1940, recovered to almost 14 percent by 1950, remained
above 13 percent through 1970, and then declined to 9.8 percent in
2000. (See chart 12.) The drop in 1940 reflects, at least in part, the
Great Depression, which may have affected craftsmen more than
other occupation groups.49 Employment grew from 4,223,000 in 1910
to 12,769,000 in 2000. The occupation of craftsmen, foremen, and
kindred workers is divided into three subgroups for this article,
roughly corresponding to the 2000 SOC major occupation groups of
construction workers, mechanics and repairers, and production and
other craftsmen.50
48 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
Chart 9. Proportion of total employment of clerical and kindred workers and proportion of total
employment in major clerical occupations, 1910–2000
Percent PercentClerical and kindred workers
Major clerical occupations
Stenographers, typi
Clerical and kindred workers, n.e.c.
Stenographers, typists, and secretaries
Bookkeepers (includes cashiers prior to 1950)
Cashiers
Telephone operators
Bank tellers
Telephone operators
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
5.0
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
0.0
5.0
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 49
Chart 10. Proportion of total employment of managers, officials, and proprietors, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
16.0
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
16.0
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
Chart 11. Proportion of total employment of sales workers, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
50 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
Mechanics and repairers grew 10.9 times as a proportion
of total employment between 1910 and 1950, but by 2000 the
occupation had dropped to 9.9 times the 1910 proportion. It
grew from 0.32 percent to 3.91 percent in 1960 and then slipped
to 3.58 percent in 2000. (See chart 13, top panel.) Employment
of mechanics and repairers grew from 140,000 in 1910 to
2,520,000 in 1960 and 4,642,000 in 2000. A vast increase in the
amount of machinery, all requiring maintenance and repair,
drove the growth. There was greater mechanization of facto-
ries, farms, offices, mines, service industries, and homes, all
made possible by the spread of a network of electric power
lines and generating facilities. The number of motor vehicles
and aircraft in use grew exponentially, as did machinery related
to central heating and air-conditioning, telephone and broad-
cast communications, computers, and many other technolo-
gies. The proportion of mechanics and repairers declined
slightly after 1960 as the pace of mechanization slowed and
as machinery and equipment became more reliable and easier
to repair.
Construction workers declined 31 percent as a proportion
of total employment between 1910 and 2000, from 4.3 percent
to 3.0 percent. (see chart 13, middle panel.) Employment grew
from 1,663,000 in 1910 to 3,837,000 in 2000. Most of the relative
decline in construction workers’ share of employment was
among carpenters. Electricians, the second-largest construc-
tion occupation after carpenters in 2000, grew from 0.34
percent of total employment in 1910 to 0.57 percent in 2000,
with most growth between 1910 and 1920. (See chart 13,
middle panel.)
Production and other craftsmen grew 26 percent as a
proportion of total employment from 1910 to 1920, but then
declined, dropping to 65 percent below the 1910 level. The
category grew from 5.5 percent in 1910 to 6.9 percent in 1920,
but fell to 1.9 percent by 2000. (See chart 13, bottom panel.)
Employment grew from 2,125,000 in 1910 to 3,435,000 in 1970,
but slipped to 2,515,000 by 2000. Mechanization and automa-
tion in the manufacturing and railroad industries, as well as in
other industries; more efficient management; and, in the later
decades, greater imports caused the decline.
Operatives
Operatives and kindred workers include operators of motor
vehicles and fixed machinery; assemblers, inspectors, pack-
ers, and related workers; and apprentices to craft workers. In
the early years of the 20th century, the occupation also
included many operators of horse-drawn vehicles. Opera-
tives grew 28 percent as a proportion of total employment
Chart 12. Proportion of total employment of craftsmen, foremen, and kindred workers, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
16.0
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
16.0
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 51
Chart 13. Proportion of total employment of mechanics and repairers, construction trade workers, and
production and other craftsmen, 1910–2000
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
Craftsmen, production and other
Construction trade workers
Mechanics and repairers PercentPercent
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Construction trades,
Construction trades, total
Carpenters
Electricians
Electricians
52 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
between 1910 and 1950, but by 2000 their proportion had
fallen to 33 percent below the 1910 level. Operatives grew
from 15.7 percent of total employment in 1910 to 20.1 percent
in 1950, but then declined to 10.4 percent in 2000. (See chart
14.) Employment grew from 6,079,000 in 1910 to 11,518,000 in
1950, peaked at 14,346,000 in 1980, and declined to 13,544,000
by 2000. The group is divided into three components for
analysis: road (motor and horse-drawn) vehicle operators,
mine operatives and laborers, and production and other
operatives.
Road vehicle operators grew 88 percent as a proportion of
total employment between 1910 and 1960, but by 2000 the
category was only 59 percent above the 1910 level.51 Road
vehicle operators grew from 1.9 percent of total employment
in 1910 to 3.6 percent in 1960, but then settled at about 3.0
percent for the rest of the century. (See chart 14.) Employment
grew from 735,000 in 1910 to 3,917,000 by 2000. The increase
was due to growth in the volume of goods moved by road
and in the distances the goods were shipped.
The employment drop to 641,000 and 1.5 percent of total
employment in 1920 reflects the shift from horse-drawn to
motorized vehicles, which greatly increased driver
productivity.52 (The 1910 and 1920 censuses did not dis-
tinguish clearly between operators of horse-drawn and
motorized vehicles.) The growth of truck registrations from
10,000 in 1910 to 1.1 million in 1920 indicates the magnitude of
the shift. So does the drop in employment of livery stable
keepers and managers from 35,000 to 11,000 over the same
period.53
Mine operatives and laborers declined 95 percent as a
proportion of total employment between 1910 and 2000, from
2.4 percent in the former year to 0.1 in the latter (see chart 14),
while employment fell from 917,000 to 158,000. The sharp
decline was due to advances in mining technology and mech-
anization and to the slower-than-average growth of mining
industry output.
Production and other operatives grew 32 percent as a
proportion of total employment from 1910 to 1950, but by
2000 was 53 percent below the 1910 level. (See chart 14.)
Employment grew from 4,265,000 in 1910 to 8,829,000 in 1950,
peaked at 11,010,000 in 1980, and dropped to 9,412,000 by
2000. The trend largely reflects developments in mass pro-
duction in manufacturing. In the early decades of the 20th
century, mass production, which relied on considerable
mechanization and the splitting of complex tasks into simple
ones, required large numbers of operatives.54 Operatives
tended the machines used in rapidly growing continuous-
process industries such as steel, paper, and chemicals; oper-
Chart 14. Proportion of total employment of operatives, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
Operatives, total
Production and other
Operatives, total
Production and other operatives
Road vehicle operators
Mine operatives and laborers
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
5.0
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
0.0
5.0
10.0
15.0
20.0
25.0
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 53
ated metal-fabricating, sewing, printing, textile, and other
machinery; and assembled and inspected motor vehicles and,
later, refrigerators, radios, televisions, and many other prod-
ucts.55 In nonmanufacturing industries, they operated laundry
and drycleaning machinery and railroad switches and brakes,
made and altered dresses and suits, and parked cars. The
proportional decline of operatives after 1950 reflects automa-
tion in manufacturing, laundries, railroads, and other indus-
tries; more efficient management; and, in the later decades of
the 20th century, greater imports.
Laborers, except farm and mine
Laborers other than farm and mine laborers declined by 64
percent as a proportion of total employment between 1910
and 2000. During that span, these laborers’ share of employ-
ment went from 10.4 percent to 3.7 percent, although the
proportion peaked at 11.4 percent in 1920. (See chart 15.)
Employment of the group grew from 4,035,000 in 1910 to
4,972,000 in 1990, but dropped to 4,851,000 in 2000. Both more
efficient management and the mechanization of production,
construction, and material-handling activities led to the de-
cline. However, the proportion of gardeners, except farm, and
groundskeepers nearly tripled, from 0.26 percent to 0.7
percent, with most growth occurring after 1980. (See chart
15.) Employment grew from 100,000 to 903,000. More public
and commercial buildings, highways, and recreation facilities
requiring gardening services, plus more extensive landscap-
ing, stimulated the growth. Rising incomes also permitted
homeowners to do more extensive landscaping and lawn care
and to hire workers for tasks formerly done by household
members. Employment of laborers, excluding gardeners, was
3,900,000 in 2000, the same level as in 1910.
Private household workers
Private household workers fell 92 percent as a proportion of
total employment, from 6.0 percent in 1910 to 0.45 percent in
1990. (See chart 16.) Employment of these workers declined
from 2,319,000 to 523,000. (Due to changes in the occupational
classification system used in the 2000 census, data for 2000 are
not available.56) The decline reflects changes in both demand
and supply. The need for private household workers decreased
over the period as home production of goods and services
shifted to manufacturing and service industries and as
housework became more mechanized. A greater proportion of
food was prepared in food-processing plants, grocery stores,
and restaurants; clothing increasingly was produced in
Chart 15. Proportion of total employment of laborers, except farm and mine, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
Laborers, except farm and mine
Laborers, except gardeners and groundskeepers
Gardeners, except farm, and groundskeepers
Gardeners, except fa
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
54 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
Chart 16. Proportion of total employment of private household service workers, 1910–1990
Percent Percent
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
Chart 17. Proportion of total employment of farmers and of farm laborers, 1910–2000
Percent Percent
Farmers
Farm laborers
NOTE:Data for 1930 are an average of 1920 and 1940 data because 1930 data were unavailable when this article was written.
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
16.0
18.0
20.0
0.0
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
14.0
16.0
18.0
20.0
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 55
manufacturing industries and cleaned in service industries; and
more and more children were cared for in daycare centers. At the
same time, labor-saving technologies such as hot and cold
running water, central heating, gas and electric stoves,
refrigerators and freezers, clothes washers and dryers, vacuum
cleaners, dishwashers, and wash-and-wear clothing made
housekeeping easier to perform.57 The supply of workers to this
occupation also became more limited, particularly in the early
part of the century, as outside employment opportunities for
women—most of these workers were women—broadened,
chiefly in clerical and service occupations.58
Farmers and farm laborers
The two occupation groups of farmers (including farm managers)
and farm laborers (including foremen) combined declined 96
percent as a proportion of total employment between 1910 and
2000, from 33 percent to 1.2 percent. (See chart 17.) Employment
declined from 12,809,000 to 1,598,000 between the 2 years.59
Sharply rising farm productivity, together with limited appetites
for farm products, caused the decline. In addition, rapid growth
in demand for workers in other occupations, as well as higher
earnings, encouraged the shift out of farming.
Farm mechanization, most notably the replacement of
horses and mules with gasoline-powered tractors of growing
power and efficiency, greatly increased farm workers’ produc-
tivity. So did improved fertilizers and pesticides, higher yield
varieties of plants and breeds of animals, improved irrigation
practices, more efficient farm management, and farm consoli-
dation. Near the end of the century, genetically modified crops
increased yields, reduced pesticide usage, and increased
resistance to many pests and fungi. The proportion of farm
laborers dropped especially sharply from 1910 to 1920, as
people left for military service or factory work during World
War I and did not return. In addition, the 1920 census was
conducted on January 1; had it been conducted on April 15,
a time of greater farm activity, a greater number of seasonal
farm laborers would have been reported.60
Despite declining farm employment over the 1910–2000
period, agricultural output grew. Wheat production increased
2.6 times, from 625 million bushels to 2,228 million bushels,
and yield per acre tripled, from 13.7 bushels to 42.0 bushels.
Corn production grew 2.5 times, from 2,852 million bushels to
9,915 million bushels, with yield per acre growing 4 times,
from 27.9 bushels to 136.9 bushels.61 However, these in-
creases in output, while substantial, were much more modest
than increases in output in other sectors, such as manufac-
turing and services. Still, from 1900 to 1997, the time required
to cultivate an acre of wheat decreased from more than 2
weeks to about 2 hours, while for an acre of corn, it declined
from 38 hours to 2 hours.
EVERY 2 YEARS, THE BUREAU ANALYZES historic employ-
ment trends as part of its program of 10-year occupation and
industry employment projections. The Bureau projects that
many of the long-term trends described in this article will
continue into the 21st century.62 Professional and related
occupations and health service workers are projected to
increase their share of total employment between 2004 and
2014. Construction occupations and installation, mainte-
nance, and repair occupations are expected to remain about
the same proportion of total employment, while production
occupations (roughly equivalent to production craftsmen
and production-related operatives), office and administrative
support occupations (roughly equivalent to clerical occu-
pations), and agricultural managers and agricultural workers
are projected to decline.
Notes
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 employ-
ment 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.
4 On the Internet at http://www.ipums.org/. (See Steven Ruggles,
Matthew Sobek, Trent Alexander, Catherine A. Fitch, Ronald Goeken,
Patricia Kelly Hall, Miriam King, and Chad Ronnander, Integrated
Public Use Microdata Series: Version 3.0 (Minneapolis, Minnesota
Population Center, 2004.)) IPUMS provides Census Bureau microdata
dating back to 1850. The size of the microdata sample is either 1
percent or 5 percent, depending upon the year.
5 In addition, the original Census Bureau data have both sampling
and nonsampling errors.
6 An occupation category consists of a homogeneous group of occupa-
tion titles. (See Alphabetical index of occupations and industries, 1950 Census
of Population, rev. ed. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1950), p. vi.)
7 The 1950 census did include three subgroups: engineers, natural
scientists, and mechanics and repairers.
8 See Standard Occupational Classification Manual, 2000
(Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget,
2000).
56 Monthly Labor Review March 2006
Occupational Changes
9 Data in chart 1 on private household workers are for 1990,
rather than 2000. In the 2000 census, the employment of private
household workers cannot be determined, because those workers are
included with workers having similar duties in cleaning, childcare, food
preparation, or other service worker occupations. Therefore, the
change in private household workers’ employment over the 90-year
period cannot be calculated.
10 Of course, these shifts began well before 1910. For example,
employment in the agricultural sector, roughly equivalent to farm
occupation employment, declined from 64.5 percent in 1850 to 32.1
percent in 1910. Over the same period, employment in the goods-
producing sector increased from 17.7 percent to 32.1 percent, and
that in the service-producing sector increased from 17.8 percent to
35.9 percent. (See Michael Urquhart, “The employment shift to
services: where did it come from?” Monthly Labor Review, April 1984,
pp. 15–22, especially table 1, p. 16.)
11 That is, their growth appears as a straight line in the charts that are
presented. Obviously, growth rates over the period need not be steady.
12 The group included SOC numbers 15–29–0000 in 2000. (See
Standard Occupational Classification Manual, 2000, p. xvi.)
Accountants and auditors, however, a category classified as a business
and financial operations occupation in the 2000 SOC, also is discussed
here because it was classified as a professional, technical, and kindred
occupation in 1950.
13 See Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century
(Washington, DC, National Academy of Engineering, 2006), on the
Internet at http://www.greatachievements.org/.
14 Data are from the 1960–90 censuses and the 2000 Current Pop-
ulation Survey (CPS). Computer programmers; computer systems analysts;
and computer specialists, not elsewhere classified (n.e.c.), first appeared
as titles of occupations in the 1960 census, within professional, technical,
and kindred workers, n.e.c., and as Bureau of the Census occupations (with
employment data) in 1970. Special tabulations provide employment data
for 1960. (See Constance Bogh DiCesare, “Changes in the occupational
structure of U.S. jobs,” Monthly Labor Review, March 1975, pp. 24–34,
especially Table 2, p. 26; and John A. Priebe, Joan Heinkel, and Stanley
Greene, 1970 Occupation and Industry Classification Systems in Terms of
Their 1960 Occupation and Industry Elements, Technical Paper 26 (U.S.
Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1972), especially table
1, p. 19.)
15 Data on accountants for the 1910–40 period are from Historical
Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, Bicentennial
Edition, part 1 (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census,
1975). Accountants and auditors are classified with business and
financial operations occupations in 2000.
16 Greatest Engineering Achievements.
17 William C. Goodman, “The software and engineering industries:
threatened by technological change?” Monthly Labor Review, August
1996, pp. 37–45.
18 Healthcare workers, excluding attendants and practical nurses,
increased 4.6 times, from 0.8 percent to 4.4 percent.
19 In the latter part of the century, home healthcare provided by
healthcare workers also grew rapidly.
20 David E. Kyvig, Daily Life in the United States, 1920–1940
(Chicago, Ivan R. Dee, 2002).
21 See Anne Kahl and Donald Clark, “Employment in health
services: long term trends and projections,” Monthly Labor Review,
August 1986, pp. 17–36; and David Hiles, “Health services: the real
jobs machine,” Monthly Labor Review, November 1992, pp. 3–16.
22 Theodore Caplow, Louis Hicks, and Ben J. Wattenberg, The First
Measured Century: An Illustrated Guide to Trends in America, 1900–
2000 (Washington, DC, AEI Press, 2001).
23 Personal interview with Dale C. Smith, Ph. D., chairman, Depart-
ment of Medical History, U.S. University of the Health Services, Dec.
8, 2004.
24 Caplow, Hicks, and Wattenberg, The First Measured Century.
25 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003 (U.S. Census
Bureau, 2003). Data are based on the CPS.
26 At 9.1 percent, physicians and surgeons were the second-largest
professional and technical occupation in 1910, but by 2000 they had
dropped to 2.4 percent of all professional workers. Dentists and
pharmacists remained a fairly steady proportion of total employment
throughout the century.
27 The higher 1940 ratio may reflect the smaller-than-average
impact of the Great Depression on the employment levels of lawyers.
In 1940, the overall unemployment rate was 14.6 percent (Statistical
Abstract of the United States, 1961 (U.S. Census Bureau, 1961).)
28 Richard L. Abel, American Lawyers (New York, Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 1989); see especially pp. 123–26.
29 Federal laws include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the National Environ-
mental Policy Act of 1969, and the Occupational Safety and Health
Act of 1970.
30 In the census, teachers, n.e.c. The only other category of teach-
ers is college presidents, professors, and instructors. Teachers, n.e.c.,
made up by far the largest professional occupation in 1910, at 36.4
percent of all professional workers. By 2000, it was still the largest,
but was only 16.4 percent of professional workers.
31 Thomas D. Snyder, ed., 120 Years of American Education: A Statistical
Portrait (Washington, DC, National Center for Education Statistics, 1993); see
also IES/NCES, “Youth Indicators, 2005: Trends in the Well-being of American
Youth, Indicator 11: Pupil/Teacher Ratios and Expenditures per Student,”
table 11, on the Internet at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/youthindicators/
.asp?PubPageNumber=11&ShowTablePage=TablesHTML/11.asp.
32 United States Summary: Population and Housing Unit Counts
(U.S. Census Bureau, August 1993), table 2, on the Internet at http://
www.census.gov/population/censusdata/table-2.pdf.
33 National and State Population Estimates: Annual Population
Estimates 2000–2005 (U.S. Census Bureau, Dec. 21, 2005), on the
Internet at http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-ann-est.html.
34 The percent change here is based on data for 5- to 19- year-olds,
prorated for 5- to 18-year-olds.
35 Digest of Education Statistics Tables and Figures (National
Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S.
Department of Education, 2001), table 8, on the Internet at http://
nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d01/dt008.asp. Between 1910 and
1940, the proportion of people aged 25 years and older with a high
school diploma increased from 13.5 percent to 24.5 percent.
36 Clergy declined from 7.3 percent to 1.3 percent of professionals
over the period.
Monthly Labor Review March 2006 57
37 The 2000 data include some workers classified as private house-
hold workers in earlier years.
38 Health service workers grew 4 times as a percent of total employ-
ment, from 0.39 percent to 1.95 percent. Their numbers grew from
97,000 to 3,513,000. Practical nurses are classified with service
workers in the 1950 census, but with healthcare practitioners and
technical occupations in the SOC. Data for service workers, n.e.c., are
not included in the components.
39 Gardeners, except farm, and groundskeepers are included within
laborers, just as they are in the 1950 census classification.
40 Nationwide prohibition began on January 16, 1920, with the
18th amendment to the Constitution, but State and local laws had
already significantly affected the drinking of alcoholic beverages. The
amendment was repealed in 1934. (See Kyvig, Daily Life in the United
States, pp. 3, 24, and 25.)
41 John A. Jakle and Keith A. Sculle, Fast food: roadside restaurants
in the automobile age (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press,
1999).
42 http://www.fns.usda.gov/cga/PressReleases/1999/PR-
0060.htm.
43 Caplow, Hicks, and Wattenberg, The First Measured Century, pp.
214–17.
44 In the 2000 SOC, cashiers are classified as sales workers.
45 See Teresa L. Morisi, “Commercial banking transformed by
computer technology,” Monthly Labor Review, August 1996, pp. 30–
36; and Michael J. Pilot, “ Occupational Outlook Handbook: a review
of 50 years of change,” Monthly Labor Review, May 1999, pp. 8–26.
46 Data on attendants in physicians’ and dentists’ offices also are
included in data on healthcare workers.
47 John Priebe, Changes between the 1950 and 1960 Occupational
and Industry Classifications (U.S. Bureau of the Census, July 1969).
DiCesare, “Occupational structure of U.S. jobs,” cautions that part of
the 1960–70 decline could be attributed to definitional changes.
48 See note 44.
49 See, for example, note 27.
50 Data for these three categories do not include foremen, n.e.c.
The Census Bureau aggregated data for all foremen, so there was no
way to allocate their employment to each of the categories. Craftsmen
and kindred workers, n.e.c., also were not allocated. The occupation
of mechanics and repairers is a 1950 census group, roughly equivalent
to installation, maintenance, and repair occupations in the 2000 SOC.
51 This group corresponds to motor vehicle operators in the 2000
SOC.
52 Fourteenth Census of the United States taken in the Year 1920,
Volume IV, Population 1920, Occupations (U.S. Bureau of the Census),
p. 16.
53 Ibid., p. 39.
54 See Harold F. Williamson, The Growth of the American Economy
(New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1944), especially pp. 499–519.
55 See Kyvig, Daily Life in the United States, pp. 35–37, for a
discussion of Henry Ford’s role in developing mass production.
56 See Standard Occupational Classification Manual, 2000.
57 The First Measured Century, pp. 36–37, 98–99. The greater
labor force participation rate of women in the latter part of the
century did not appear to affect the decline in the number and
proportion of private household service workers.
58 Between 1910 and 1950, the number of women employed in
clerical occupations increased 5.5 times (by 3.8 million), while male
clerical workers increased 1.1 times. (See Historical Statistics of the
United States, pp. 139, 140).
59 Employment of farmers declined from 15.6 percent of all em-
ployment to 0.6 percent, from a level of 6,048,000 to 775,000.
Employment of farm laborers declined from 17.4 percent to 0.6
percent, or, numerically, from 6,761,000 to 823,000.
60 See Fourteenth Census, pp. 12, 13, 22–24. The 1910 census was
conducted on April 15. The Fourteenth Census also discusses the
possible overcount in the 1910 census of children aged 10–15 years
reported as farm laborers. In the early years of the 20th century, a
large proportion of farm laborers were unpaid family workers.
61 See Track Records: United States Crop Production (U.S.
Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service,
April 2003), on the Internet at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/
data-sets/crops/96120/track03c.htm#all; and 2002 Census of
Agriculture—State Data: New York (U.S. Department of Agriculture,
National Agricultural Statistics Service, no date), table 33, on the
Internet at http://www.nass.usda.gov/census/census02/volume1/
ny/st36_1_033_033.pdf.
62 Daniel E. Hecker, “Occupational employment projections to
2014,” Monthly Labor Review, November 2005, pp. 70–101.
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Bureau of the Census occupations (with employment data) in 1970. Special tabulations provide employment data for 1960. (See Constance Bogh DiCesare
  • John A Priebe
  • Joan Heinkel
  • Stanley Greene
and computer specialists, not elsewhere classified (n.e.c.), first appeared as titles of occupations in the 1960 census, within professional, technical, and kindred workers, n.e.c., and as Bureau of the Census occupations (with employment data) in 1970. Special tabulations provide employment data for 1960. (See Constance Bogh DiCesare, "Changes in the occupational structure of U.S. jobs," Monthly Labor Review, March 1975, pp. 24-34, especially Table 2, p. 26; and John A. Priebe, Joan Heinkel, and Stanley Greene, 1970 Occupation and Industry Classification Systems in Terms of Their 1960 Occupation and Industry Elements, Technical Paper 26 (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1972), especially table 1, p. 19.) 15 Data on accountants for the 1910-40 period are from Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, Bicentennial Edition, part 1 (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1975). Accountants and auditors are classified with business and financial operations occupations in 2000.