Special Report

The Most Iconic Job in Every State

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Oklahoma: Oil and gas rotary drill operators
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 15.0 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 3,480
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $56,300 (nationwide: $57,070)
> Share of all US oil and gas rotary drill operators in Oklahoma: 16.6%

Resource extraction has been an economic pillar in Oklahoma for decades. For 22 years in the early 20th century, Oklahoma produced more oil than other regional oil-producing states including Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and even Texas.

Today, Oklahoma produces more crude oil than all but three other states and has more natural gas reserves than every state except for Texas and Pennsylvania. Like in other resource-rich states, extraction workers are relatively concentrated in Oklahoma. Oil and gas rotary drill operators in particular are about 15 times more concentrated in Oklahoma’s labor force than they are in the U.S. labor force.

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Oregon: Misc. logging workers
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 24.9 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 1,210
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $43,370 (nationwide: $40,390)
> Share of all US misc. logging workers in Oregon: 32.3%

Nearly one-third of all miscellaneous logging workers in the United States are employed in Oregon. Due to rich soil and an ideal climate for forests, Oregon is a national leader in tree growing and lumber production. Nearly half of the state’s 63 million acres are covered in forest, and according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, logging harvests totalled 4.1 billion board feet in 2018.

Logging workers tend to have slightly higher incomes in Oregon than they do on average nationwide. The average annual wage in the occupation is $43,370 in Oregon, compared to $40,390 across the U.S. as a whole.

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Pennsylvania: Metal pourers and casters
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 3.4 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 1,080
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $39,780 (nationwide: $40,850)
> Share of all US metal pourers and casters in Pennsylvania: 13.5%

Though Pennsylvania’s iconic steel industry is a shadow of its former self, with the Bethlehem Steel complex located in the Lehigh Valley shuttering operations in 1995, metallurgy occupations remain in the state. Nearly 14% of all metal pourers and casters in the U.S. work in Pennsylvania. U.S. Steel Corp. — a beneficiary of Trump Administration tariffs on cheaper Chinese steel — announced plans in 2019 to invest over $1 billion in its plants located just outside of Pittsburgh.

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Rhode Island: Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 10.0 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 780
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $38,460 (nationwide: $45,950)
> Share of all US jewelers and precious stone and metal workers in Rhode Island: 3.3%

Jewelers and precious stone and metal work is the most iconic job in Rhode Island. Workers in the field are 10 times more concentrated in the state than they are nationwide.

After a Providence jeweler came up with a new way to plate gold in the late 1700s, factories began to spring up nearby, and the city became a top national and global producer of jewelry. Today, there are still hundreds of workers designing, making, repairing, and selling jewelry in the state. Well-known companies like Tiffany & Co., Shinola, and more have jewelry operations in Rhode Island.

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South Carolina: Tire builders
> Occupation’s concentration in the state: 13.3 times greater than avg.
> Statewide employment in the occupation: 3,970
> Avg. annual wage for occupation: $50,630 (nationwide: $45,010)
> Share of all US tire builders in South Carolina: 19.1%

South Carolina is the nation’s leading tire manufacturer. Tire builders are over 13 times more concentrated in the state than they are nationwide. Companies like Michelin, Bridgestone, and Continental have manufacturing plants in the state. Over 19% of tire builders in the United States work in South Carolina.

Jobs for tire makers are also relatively well paying in South Carolina. The average annual income for those working in the field is $50,630, over $5,000 more than the average annual wage for all tire builders nationwide.