Retail salespersons and cashiers were the occupations with the highest employment
in 2010, 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 4.2 and 3.4 million, respectively. National employment and wage information for
all occupations is shown in table 1.

These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, which
provides employment and wage estimates for wage and salary workers in 22 major
occupational groups and nearly 800 detailed occupations. OES produces cross-industry
occupational employment and wage data for the nation, states, metropolitan areas,
metropolitan divisions, and nonmetropolitan areas; industry-specific data for the
nation; and data by ownership across all industries and for schools and hospitals.


   --The 10 largest occupations accounted for more than 20 percent of
     total employment in May 2010. In addition to retail salespersons and
     cashiers, the largest occupations included general office clerks;
     combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food;
     registered nurses; and waiters and waitresses.

   --Most of the largest occupations were relatively low paying. Of the
     10 largest occupations, only registered nurses had an average wage
     above the U.S. all-occupations mean of $21.35 per hour or $44,410
     annually. Combined food preparation and serving workers, cashiers,
     and waiters and waitresses were the three lowest paying of the 10
     largest occupations, and also among the lowest-paying occupations

   --Three of the largest occupations were office and administrative
     support jobs, helping to make office and administrative support the
     largest occupational group overall, representing 17 percent of total
     employment. The next largest groups were sales and related occupations
     and food preparation and serving related occupations, which made up
     about 11 and 9 percent of U.S. employment, respectively. (See table 1.)

   --The smallest occupational groups included legal occupations and
     life, physical, and social science occupations, each representing
     around 1 percent of total employment. Most employment in these two
     groups came from occupations with above average wages, such as judges,
     with an hourly mean wage of $50.67; arbitrators, mediators, and
     conciliators ($31.95); medical scientists, except epidemiologists
     ($41.69); and physicists ($53.86). (See table 1.)


   --Nearly 91 percent of employment in the 10 largest occupations was
     in the private sector. Among these occupations, the share of private
     sector employment ranged from 74 percent of janitors and secretaries
     to nearly 100 percent of retail salespersons and waiters and waitresses.
     Eight of the 10 largest occupations in the private sector were the same
     as those in the economy as a whole; stock clerks and order fillers and
     general and operations managers rounded out the largest private sector

   --Five of the 6 largest occupations in local government were education
     related: elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers, except
     special education; teacher assistants; and teachers and instructors,
     all other. These 5 occupations made up about 30 percent of local
     government employment. Other large occupations in local government
     included police and sheriff’s patrol officers, janitors, and firefighters.

   --Correctional officers and jailers was the largest occupation in state
     government, with employment of nearly 257,000. Additional large occupations
     in state government included registered nurses, graduate teaching assistants,
     police and sheriff’s patrol officers, postsecondary health specialties
     teachers, and several office and administrative support occupations.

   --Four occupations specific to the U.S. Postal Service made up about 21
     percent of federal government employment. Aside from these occupations,
     the largest occupations in the federal government included all other
     business operations specialists, registered nurses, compliance officers,
     and management analysts.

OES data by ownership are available from


   --Health care and social assistance was the industry sector with
     the highest employment, followed by retail trade. Over half of
     employment in the health care and social assistance sector was in
     healthcare-related occupations, including registered nurses; nursing
     aides, orderlies, and attendants; home health aides; and licensed
     practical and licensed vocational nurses. Other large occupations in
     this sector included personal care aides, medical secretaries, and
     childcare workers. More than 60 percent of retail trade employment was
     in just 4 occupations: retail salespersons, cashiers, stock clerks and
     order fillers, and first-line supervisors of retail salesworkers.

   --Industries with the highest all-occupations mean wages included
     computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, software publishers,
     and several financial services industries. These industries tended to
     have high employment concentrations of occupations with above average
     wages. For example, the largest occupations in software publishing
     included software developers, applications, with an hourly mean wage
     of $45.65; software developers, systems software ($48.48); computer
     programmers ($39.16); and sales representatives, wholesale and
     manufacturing, technical and scientific products ($40.50).

   --The industries with the lowest all-occupations mean wages consisted
     primarily of food service and retail trade industries. In limited-
     service eating places, the industry with the lowest overall average
     wage, 8 of the 10 largest occupations had mean wages below $10.00 per
     hour, including combined food preparation and serving workers, including
     fast food ($8.62); fast food cooks ($8.85); and counter attendants,
     cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop ($8.82).

OES national industry-specific data are available from

State and Local Area

   --States with high total employment, such as California, Texas, New
     York, and Florida, also tended to have the highest employment of many
     individual occupations. However, smaller states had among the highest
     employment of some occupations, due to factors such as industry mix or
     natural resource endowments. For example, West Virginia and Kentucky
     had some of the highest employment of several mining-related occupations,
     including mining roof bolters and shuttle car operators, while Iowa had
     some of the highest employment of farm equipment mechanics and soil and
     plant scientists.

   --While some occupations, such as janitors and dishwashers, made up similar
     shares of total employment in most areas, employment concentrations of other
     occupations varied considerably across areas. For example, as a share of
     total area employment, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., had nearly
     18 times as many semiconductor processors and computer hardware engineers
     as the U.S. as a whole, while the employment share of commercial and
     industrial designers in the Warren-Farmington Hills-Troy, Mich., metropolitan
     division was more than 9 times the U.S. average.

   --Wages for a given occupation also varied significantly across areas. For
     example, among areas with at least 100 computer hardware engineers, wages
     for this occupation varied from $35.99 in Kansas City, Mo.-Ks., to $59.66 in
     the Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y., metropolitan division. 

OES data, including location quotients, by state and metropolitan/nonmetropolitan
area are available from and
current/oessrcma.htm, respectively.

     |                                                                  |
     |        Changes to Occupational Employment Statistics Data        |
     |                                                                  |
     | The May 2010 OES estimates mark the first set of estimates based |
     | in part on data collected using the 2010 Standard Occupational   |
     | Classification (SOC) system. Nearly all the occupations in this  |
     | release are 2010 SOC occupations; however, some are not. In      |
     | these cases, an estimate for a temporary occupation was created  |
     | from data reported for one or more occupations in the 2000 SOC   |
     | combined with data reported for one or more 2010 SOC occupa-     |
     | tions. Some occupations have the same title as a 2010 SOC        |
     | occupation, but not the same content. These occupations  are     |
     | marked with an asterisk (*) and given a temporary code for the   |
     | OES data. The May 2012 OES data will reflect the full set of     |
     | detailed occupations in the 2010 SOC. For a list of all occu-    |
     | pations, including 2010 SOC occupations, and how data collected  |
     | on two structures were combined, see the OES Frequently Asked    |
     | Questions online at         |
     |                                                                  |