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Comparing the Recovery to the Recession by Major Industry Sector

July 5, 2013 by Emsi Burning Glass

Two charts making the rounds from Quartz give a good sense of the U.S. employment picture based on the June jobs report. The second shows jobs losses and gains by various industries (pictured at right), and in it you can see the big increase in leisure and hospitality jobs, and the notable (and continued) decline in state government.

But the most recent data from the BLS, in addition to being preliminary, only covers the last month. How about the last four years, since the U.S. shifted into recovery mode? That’s what we illustrated in the following chart using EMSI’s latest wage-and-salary worker dataset. Plus, for context, we added in how each major industry sector performed during the recession (2008-2009 for the purposes of our jobs numbers, which are annual averages).

To give the really big picture, EMSI estimates that the U.S. has a tad over 140 million jobs, not including self-employed workers. That’s up 4% from 2010 (when the total was 134.5 million) and down 1% since 2007 (141.8 million).

Note: EMSI’s 2013 job numbers are estimates at this point and are based on historic and projected data from sources such as Bureau of Labor Statistics and state labor market agencies. We update our data four times per year, and this data is from our 2013.2 dataset. For more, see here.


The chart, with job gains and losses in the thousands, shows almost across-the-board growth during the recovery. The glaring exception is government, which has dropped an estimated 504,000 jobs from 2010-2013 while the private sector has been ramping up. (As we mentioned in a recent post, the only government industry that’s grown substantially the last few years has been state colleges and universities).

With the recession and recovery periods stacked side-by-side, perhaps the thing that stands out the most is how far manufacturing and construction fell from 2008-2009 — and how much more they have to go to make up for their recessionary losses. No sector lost more jobs than manufacturing (1.57 million, a 12% decline), but construction had a bigger percentage fall (16%, a total of nearly 1.2 million jobs) and it has only grown 4% since 2010.

Only three major sectors added jobs during the recession and recovery, the largest and strongest-performing of which is health care and social services. Overall, health care has added more than 1.1. million jobs since the onset of the recession and more than 800,000 since 2010. The other two double-gainers are utilities and educational services (private). Utilities hasn’t shed workers, but it has only added a minuscule 4,600 jobs — total — during the two periods.

The biggest gainer in net new jobs from 2010-2013 is accommodation and food services. While this might come as a surprise, growth in this low-paying sector (average earnings per job: $20,580) reinforces that the recovery has been fueled by low-wage job growth — in service industries and elsewhere — more than middle- or upper-tier jobs. Another trend that shows this is the jobs surge in temporary help services, which is part of the long-winded administrative and support and waste management and remediation services sector that has added the third-most jobs since 2010 behind accommodation and health care.

Data shown in this post comes from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market data and analysis tool. To look at jobs by major sector or detailed industry in your region or for more information on EMSI, contact Josh Wright ([email protected]). Follow Wright on Twitter at @ByJoshWright and EMSI @DesktopEcon.

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