The Top 5’s: Largest Occupations

Published on 8/14/2019 by David Webb


Each year the Bureau of Labor and Statistics releases thousands of data sets relating to the job landscape across the US and its territories. In March of 2019, the latest report was released indicating which occupations represented the largest groups based on previous year data.  For the United States as a whole, the top three largest occupations were: retail salespersons; combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; and cashiers, totaling 11.7 million workers.

As we break down the data, we can begin to uncover a picture of the most prevalent occupations by state, which is generally a more accurate depiction of the types of jobs candidates will be seeking based on their location. Users can further break down top occupations by metro-areas within regions, important factors they will consider for commuting purposes, relocation, etc.

As we evaluate state-by-state, we found that almost every state, featured at least one of the top 3 largest occupations in their own state “top 5’ list. More than half of the US indicates that “retail salesperson” is the largest occupation, followed by 7 states noting “Cashier” as number one and “Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food” listed at the top spot for 4 states. In terms of wages for these largest occupations, according to the BLS “8 of the 10 largest occupations had below-average wages. Retail salespersons ($28,310), combined food preparation and serving workers ($22,140), and cashiers ($23,240) had annual mean wages significantly below the all-occupations average of $51,960.”  

Traditionally, for most of the top jobs noted, it would be expected that they are locally sourced, through store job advertising and local searches. While many staffing agencies and recruitment processing outsourcing providers focus on job placements for specific industries like technology, healthcare, executive management, there are many that serve retail and service-based industries on a large scale. Large retail companies will often contract with a firm to populate thousands of positions across various regions, especially those seasonally-based, using localized marketing tactics to attract candidates. 

Below we developed the following Top 5 Largest Occupations chart per state. It is interesting to see that nearly all states have similar variations of the largest occupations, despite geographical and regional differences. One notable exception, of course, is the District of Columbia.

5 facts to note:

  • 32 states list Retails Salesperson as the #1 largest occupation (it appears on the top 5 list of 49 states)
  • 46 states indicate Cashiers among the top 5 largest occupations
  • 37 states indicate Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food among the top 5 largest occupations
  • 26 states indicate Registered Nurses (RNs) among the top 5 largest occupations
  • Occupations that only show up one time among all the top 5’s:
    • Business Operations Specialists (D.C.)
    • Lawyers (D.C.)
    • Managers, all others (D.C.)
    • Management Analysts (D.C.)
    • Maid and Housekeeping Cleaners (HI)
    • Home Health Aides (NY)
    • Janitors and Cleaners, except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners (NY)
    • Nursing Assistants (RNs)

State

Occupation 1

Occupation 2

Occupation 3

Occupation 4

Occupation 5

Alabama

Cashiers

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

RNs

Secretaries & Admins (non-legal, med, or exec)

Alaska

Retail Salesperson

Office Clerks

General and Operations Mgrs

Secretaries & Admins (non-legal, med, or exec)

Cashiers

Arizona

Customer Service Reps

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

RNs

Arkansas

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Heavy/Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers

Cashiers

Office Clerks

California

Personal Care Aides

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Food Prep and Servers

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Colorado

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

RNs

Waiters and Waitresses

Connecticut

Cashiers

Retail Salesperson

RNs

Customer Service Reps

General and Operations Managers

Delaware

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

RNs

Food Prep and Servers

Customer Service Reps

District of Columbia

Business Operations Specialists

Lawyers

General and Operational Mgr

Managers, all others

Management Analysts

Florida

Retail Salesperson

Customer Service Reps

Cashiers

Food Prep and Servers

Waiters and Waitresses

Georgia

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Cashiers

Customer Service Reps

Hawaii

Retail Salesperson

Waiters and Waitresses

Cashiers

Food Prep and Servers

Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners

Idaho

Retail Salesperson

Customer Service Reps

Cashiers

Office Clerks

RNs

Illinois

Retail Salesperson

Office Clerks

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

Indiana

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Assemblers and Fabricators

Food Prep and Servers

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Iowa

Cashiers

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Heavy/Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers

RNs

Kansas

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Customer Service Reps

Cashiers

Secretaries & Admins (non-legal, med, or exec)

Kentucky

Food Prep and Servers

Assemblers and Fabricators

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Louisiana

Cashiers

Retail Salesperson

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

RNs

Waiters and Waitresses

Maine

Retail Salesperson

Personal Care Aides

Cashiers

RNs

Waiters and Waitresses

Maryland

Cashiers

Retail Salesperson

Secretaries & Admins (non-legal, med, or exec)

Food Prep and Servers

RNs

Massachusetts

Retail Salesperson

RNs

General and Operations Managers

Personal Care Aides

Cashiers

Michigan

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Assemblers and Fabricators

RNs

Office Clerks

Minnesota

Retail Salesperson

Personal Care Aides

RNs

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

Mississippi

Cashiers

Retail Salesperson

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

RNs

General and Operations Managers

Missouri

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

RNs

Secretaries & Admins (non-legal, med, or exec)

Montana

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Office Clerks

Food Prep and Servers

Waiters and Waitresses

Nebraska

Retail Salesperson

Heavy/Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

RNs

Nevada

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Waiters and Waitresses

Cashiers

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

New Hampshire

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Office Clerks

Food Prep and Servers

Stock Clerks and Order Fillers

New Jersey

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

RNs

Customer Service Reps

New Mexico

Secretaries & Admins (non-legal, med, or exec)

Personal Care Aides

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

New York

Retail Salesperson

Personal Care Aides

Cashiers

Home Health Aides

Janitors and Cleaners (except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners)

North Carolina

Food Prep and Servers

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

RNs

Customer Service Reps

North Dakota

Retail Salesperson

Heavy/Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers

Cashiers

Office Clerks

RNs

Ohio

Food Prep and Servers

Retail Salesperson

RNs

Cashiers

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Oklahoma

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Food Prep and Servers

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Customer Service Reps

Oregon

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Food Prep and Servers

RNs

Office Clerks

Pennsylvania

Retail Salesperson

Office Clerks

Food Prep and Servers

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

RNs

Rhode Island

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

RNs

Office Clerks

Nursing Assistants

South Carolina

Food Prep and Servers

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Customer Service Reps

South Dakota

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

RNs

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks

Customer Service Reps

Tennessee

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Retail Salesperson

Cashiers

Food Prep and Servers

Heavy/Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers

Texas

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Office Clerks

Customer Service Reps

Cashiers

Utah

Customer Service Reps

Retail Salesperson

General and Operations Manager

Food Prep and Servers

Office Clerks

Vermont

Cashiers

Retail Salespersons

Personal Care Aides

RNs

Food Prep and Servers

Virginia

Cashiers

Retail Salespersons

Food Prep and Servers

Office Clerks

Waiters and Waitresses

Washington

Retail Salespersons

Food Prep and Servers

Office Clerks

Laborers, Freight, Stock, Material Movers, Hand

Cashiers

West Virginia

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Cashiers

RNs

Office Clerks

Wisconsin

Retail Salesperson

Food Prep and Servers

Customer Service Reps

Personal Care Aides

Cashiers

Wyoming

Retail Salesperson

Office Clerks

Cashiers

Heavy/Tractor Trailer Truck Drivers

Food Prep and Servers

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