What People Do for a Living -- U.S. SuperSector Analysis

Whenever I travel across the country, wanting to know what people in each locale do for a living is a constant. Answering the question of what type of work people do defines a community from an economic perspective. The various types and numbers of jobs from one community to the next can be dramatically variable and diverse.

Fortunately the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has created a job description framework known as SuperSectors allowing a general categorization of job types. The is a segment of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which “…..is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.”

The following table shows the total of number jobs (thousands) for each of the nine SuperSectors as of the end of January 2020. Other metrics include the percentage of total jobs and respective changes for each SuperSector in the past 12-months and five years. As these metrics are based on non-seasonally adjusted data, they may vary slightly from seasonally adjusted data which are more commonly referenced when describing the job market. In the latest 12-months, for example, government jobs made up 15 percent of all employment, versus 15.8 percent a year ago. A total 167,000 new government jobs were created in the 12-months ending January 2020, and 722,000 in the past five years.

The following outline provides a more refined view of several of the nine SuperSectors categorizing employment included in each of these broad categories.

Employment Supersectors

Total Nonfarm

Mining and Logging (includes oil and gas extraction)



Trade, transportation, and utilities


Financial Activities

Professional and Business Services

Education and Health Services

Leisure and Hospitality

Other Services


For further details and descriptions of job classifications under the NAICS click https://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/2017NAICS/2017_NAICS_Manual.pdf Added detail can be seen at https://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/sssd/naics/naicsrch?chart=2017