Whether it is a gaming supervisor in Nevada, a farm worker in California, an extraction worker in North Dakota, or a petroleum engineer in Texas, one occupation is often more strongly associated with a state than any other. Such iconic occupations can be identified across the country, and often highlight each state’s unique contribution to the highly diverse U.S. economy.
Occupations such as school teachers, mail carriers, and retail workers are ubiquitous throughout the country and tend to make up the largest shares of each state’s workforce. By contrast, iconic jobs are heavily concentrated within states and relatively uncommon nationwide.
> Most iconic job: Rolling Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic
> Employed in job statewide: 5,560
> Median salary, iconic job: $50,860
> Share of U.S. employment in job: 17.5%
To determine the most iconic job in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the location quotient of all occupations in each state. The location quotient measures the concentration of jobs by comparing how common an occupation is in a state compared to how common it is nationwide. For example, the proportion of Nevada’s workforce employed as gaming service workers is 32 times greater than the comparable share nationwide.
Several factors determine which job is the most iconic in a state, including the state’s natural resources. For instance, because oil or natural gas deposits are uneven throughout the country, the jobs that accompany them are unevenly spread as well. America’s largest oil-producing state, Texas, employs more petroleum engineers than the rest of the states combined.
The most iconic job is not necessarily part of the largest industry in a state. Washington state builds 95% of all commercial aircraft in the U.S., and aerospace engineers are the most uniquely concentrated occupation in the state. However, the publishing industry is the largest contributor to GDP in Washington. Similarly, while New York’s banking and finance sector contributes most to the state’s economy, fashion designers are New York’s most iconic job.
To identify the most iconic job in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the occupation with the highest location quotient in every state using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics survey. Only occupations that comprised at least one of every 2,000 jobs statewide were considered. State and national employment figures and median salaries for each occupation also come from the BLS. All data are for 2015, the most recent period available.