America’s Most Thriving Industry

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In early 2008, the U.S. nonfarm payrolls totaled just over 138 million jobs. Two years later that total dropped to just under 130 million as the Great Recession reached its trough. As of the end of November 2016, U.S. nonfarm payrolls had reached more than 145 million.

Where are all these new jobs coming from? 24/7 Wall Street reviewed Bureau of Labor Statistics data earlier this month to determine which industries were gaining the most jobs and which were losing the most jobs.

Among the top five areas for job growth were three service industries and two agricultural industries. And while all five posted large percentage gains, the top performer tripled in the 10-year period between 2006 and 2015, beginning at a base of more than half a million jobs. None of the others was even close to the job numbers.

Here are the four industries that finished closest to the leader, along with their job totals and percentage gain over the past decade:

  • Administration of veterans’ affairs: 54,251 jobs; up 119.5%
  • Other grain farming: 21,819 jobs; up 123.7%
  • Dry pea and bean farming: 764 jobs; up 141.8%
  • Translation and interpretation services: 31,276 jobs; up 168.5%

The biggest job gainer, though, was services for the elderly and disabled, which grew 199.8% to a total of nearly 1.6 million jobs. Services for the elderly and disabled was the only industry to add more than 1 million workers in the past decade, and industry growth likely will endure as aging baby boomers continue to require increased medical attention. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Americans aged 65 and over will outnumber the population five and under for the first time in history by 2020.

The explosive growth was not accompanied by high pay, however. The average salary in the services for the elderly and disabled is just $17,143, the lowest average among all 25 industries in the original 24/7 Wall Street report. That’s less than the average for mobile food truck operators and dog walkers.

See the full report, “America’s 25 Thriving Industries,” at our website.