Special Report

The Most Iconic Job in Each State

1. Alabama
> Most iconic job:
Layout Workers
> Number of people employed in occupation in state: 1,689
> Annual median salary, iconic job: $48,330

The most iconic job in Alabama is the layout worker, with the state employing over nine times the national average share in this occupation in 2013. Layout workers set up and operate machines that process metal and plastic materials. Despite the fact that Alabama’s workforce comprised only about 1.5% of the total U.S. workforce, roughly 13% of all of the layout workers in the country worked in Alabama. This is consistent with the the above-average role that manufacturing plays in the Alabama economy compared to the rest of the country.

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2. Alaska
> Most iconic job:
Mining Machine Operators, All Other
> Number of people employed in occupation in state: 388
> Annual median salary, iconic job: $47,830

The most iconic job in Alaska is the mining machine operator, with the state employing more than 58 times the national average share in this role in 2013. Alaska has some of the richest energy resources in the United States. The state is the fourth largest oil producing state in the country. With much of the economic activity in the state devoted to extracting these resources, the energy industry makes up a relatively large share of the state’s economy. This concentration in the energy industry is reflected in the employment figures. While Alaskans comprised just over 0.2% of U.S. workers, they comprised roughly 14% of U.S. mining machine operators.

3. Arizona
> Most iconic job:
Plasterers and Stucco Masons
> Number of people employed in occupation in state: 1,678
> Annual median salary, iconic job: $32,160

The most iconic job in Arizona is the plasterer and stucco mason, with the state employing over four times the national average share in this role in 2013. Just under 2% of total U.S. employees worked in Arizona, but over 8% of the country’s plasterers and stucco masons worked in the state. The prevalence of this role is attributable in part to the state’s construction and real estate industries, with each sector accounting for above-average shares of the economy.

4. Arkansas
> Most iconic job:
Food Processing Workers, All Other
> Number of people employed in occupation in state: 2,909
> Annual median salary, iconic job: $22,220

The most iconic job in Arkansas is the food processing worker, which made up nearly eight times the state’s labor force relative to the national average share. Unlike in most states, Arkansas’ iconic job paid less than the overall median wage for workers in the state.

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5. California
> Most iconic job:
Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse
> Number of people employed in occupation in state: 171,159
> Annual median salary, iconic job: $18,510

The share of California’s workforce employed as farm workers and laborers was nearly six times greater than the comparable national share. The San Joaquin Valley, which is a major source of the nation’s agricultural products, employs many of the state’s farm laborers. Nearly two-thirds of all documented U.S. farm workers were employed in the state, far higher than the comparable shares in other states. The median salary for the more than 171,000 farm workers was just $18,510, roughly half the median for all occupations in California.