Planet Money
12:41 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Where The Jobs Are, In 2 Graphs (Hint: Not In Manufacturing)

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:32 am

The United States has a cultural obsession with manufacturing. When policymakers stump about job growth and job creation, they often focus on manufacturing jobs.

But for more than 60 years, the number of manufacturing jobs has been stagnant, while the number of service jobs has exploded. Service jobs now account for over 80 percent of all private sector jobs.

People often associate service jobs with low-wage sectors like restaurants and retail stores. And while those sectors do make up a chunk of service jobs, there's also lots of work in higher-paying fields like IT, healthcare, and professional services (a broad category that includes accounting, law and some fields of engineering).

Economists have criticized politicians' tendency to focus on manufacturing jobs while overlooking other sectors that have lots more jobs. Christina Romer, the former chairwoman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, writes:

There are sectors where workers with good educations could earn good wages if the economy were healthy. Why focus on manufacturing to create such jobs? Instead, government could make it easier for workers to get the education needed for high-skilled jobs in many fields — and encourage business formation wherever entrepreneurs see a promising opportunity.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.