Earth-friendly Careers for Earth Day 2018

Only 2 more years until we hit the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day! The first Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970. Here at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we track jobs, including jobs that take care of our planet. The Occupational Outlook Handbook provides career information for hundreds of occupations. The Handbook has been around for almost 70 years; the first paperback edition in 1949 cost $1.75!

In honor of Earth Day, here are six earth-friendly career paths to consider:

Environmental Science and Protection Technicians

What they do: Monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination, including those affecting public health.

  • 2017 median pay: $45,490 per year
  • Typical entry-level education: Associate’s degree
  • Number of jobs in 2017: 32,840
  • Projected growth 2016–26: 12% (Faster than average)

Conservation Scientists and Foresters

What they do: Manage the overall land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.Conservation scientist

  • 2017 median pay: $60,970 per year
  • Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Number of jobs in 2017: 30,340
  • Projected growth 2016–26: 6% (As fast as average)

 

 

 

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

What they do: Study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems and the impact humans have on wildlife and natural habitats.

  • 2017 median pay: $62,290 per year
  • Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Number of jobs in 2017: 17,710
  • Projected growth 2016–26: 8% (As fast as average)

Environmental Engineers

What they do: Use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems.

  • 2017 median pay: $86,800 per year
  • Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Number of jobs in 2017: 52,640
  • Projected growth 2016–26: 8% (As fast as average)

Microbiologists

What they do: Study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments.Microbiologists

  • 2017 median pay: $69,960 per year
  • Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Number of jobs in 2017: 21,870
  • Projected growth 2016–26: 8% (As fast as average)

 

 

 

Urban and Regional Planners

What they do: Develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.Urban planner

  • 2017 median pay: $71,490 per year
  • Typical entry-level education: Master’s degree
  • Number of jobs in 2017: 35,310
  • Projected growth 2016–26: 13% (Faster than average)

 

 

 

You can explore hundreds of occupations using our Occupational Outlook Handbook. For a larger list of new and emerging earth-friendly or “green” jobs, visit the Department of Labor’s O*Net Resource Center.

 

Why This Counts: What is the Producer Price Index and How Does It Impact Me?

The Producer Price Index (PPI) – sounds familiar, but what is it exactly? Didn’t it used to be called the Wholesale Price Index? It is related to the Consumer Price Index, but how? How does the PPI impact me?

Lots of questions! In this short primer we will provide brief answers and links for more information. Note, if you are an economist, this blog is NOT for you. It’s an introduction for everyone else!

Video: Introduction to the Producer Price Index

Before we go any further – what is an index? (You said this was a primer!)

An index is like a ruler. It is a way of measuring the change of just about anything. Producer price indexes measure the average change in prices for goods, services, or construction products sold as they leave the producer.

Here is an example of how an index works:

  • Suppose we created an index to track the price of a gallon of gasoline.
  • When we start tracking, gasoline costs $2.00 a gallon.
  • The starting index value is 100.0.
  • When gasoline rises to $2.50, our index goes to 125.0, which reflects a 25-percent increase in the price of gasoline.
  • If gasoline then drops to $2.25, the index goes to 112.5. The $0.25 decline in price reflects a 10-percent decrease in the price of gasoline from when the price was $2.50.

If you are a gasoline dealer, you might find a gasoline index useful. Instead of driving around every day to write down the prices of each competitor’s gasoline and averaging them together, the index can provide the data for you. (Question #5 in the PPI Frequently Asked Questions explains how to interpret an index.)

PPI is called a “family” of indexes. There are more than 10,000 indexes for individual products we release each month in over 500 industries. That is one big family!

OK, so PPI has lots of data – but what kind of data?

PPI produces three main types of price indexes: industry indexes, commodity indexes, and final demand-intermediate demand (FD-ID) indexes.

An industry refers to groups of companies that are related based on their primary business activities, such as the auto industry. The PPI measures the changes in prices received for the industry’s output sold outside the industry.

  • PPI publishes about 535 industry price indexes and another 500 indexes for groupings of industries.
  • By using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) index codes, data users can compare PPI industry-based information with other economic programs, including productivity, production, employment, wages, and earnings.

The commodity classification of the PPI organizes products by type of product, regardless of the industry of production. For example, the commodity index for steel wire uses pricing information from the industries for iron and steel mills and for steel wire drawing.

  • PPI publishes more than 3,700 commodity price indexes for goods and about 800 for services.
  • This classification system is unique to the PPI and does not match any other standard coding structure.

We also have more information on the differences between the industry and commodity classification systems.

The FD-ID classification of the PPI organizes groupings of commodities by the type of buyer. For example, the PPI for final demand measures price change in all goods, services, and construction products sold as personal consumption, capital investment, export, or to government. As a second example, the PPI for services for intermediate demand measures price change for services sold to business as inputs to production.

  • PPI publishes more than 300 FD-ID indexes.
  • This FD-ID classification system is unique to the PPI and does not match any other standard coding structure.

Now let’s go back to the beginning

  • 1902: Wholesale Price Index program begins, which makes it one of the oldest continuous set of federal statistics. The Wholesale Price Index captures the prices producers receive for their output. In contrast, the Consumer Price Index captures the prices consumers pay for their purchases.
  • 1978: BLS renames the program as the Producer Price Index to more accurately reflect that prices are collected from producers, rather than wholesalers.
  • PPI also shifts emphasis from a commodity index framework to a stage of processing index framework. This minimized the multiple counting that can occur when the price for a specific commodity and the inputs to produce that commodity are included in the same total index. For example, think of gasoline and crude petroleum both included in an all-commodities index.
  • 1985: PPI starts expanding its coverage of the economy to include services and nonresidential construction. As of January 2018, about 71 percent of services and 31 percent of construction are covered.
  • 2014: PPI introduces the Final Demand-Intermediate Demand system.
  • The “headline” number for PPI is called the PPI for Final Demand. It measures price changes for goods, services, and construction sold for personal consumption, capital investment, government purchases, and exports. We also produce a series of PPIs for Intermediate Demand, which measure price change for business purchases, excluding capital investment.
  • Let me give you an example: Within the PPI category for loan services, we have separate indexes for consumer loans and business loans. The commodity index for consumer loans is included in the final demand index and the commodity index for business loans is mostly in an intermediate demand index.
  • The Frequently Asked Question on the PPI for Final Demand provides even more information on this new way of measuring the PPI. The blog, Understanding What the PPI Measures, may also be helpful.
  • We also have an article that explains how the PPI for final demand compares with other government prices indexes, such as the CPI.

Why is the PPI important?

To me?

  • Inflation is the higher costs of goods and services. Low inflation may be good for the economy as it increases consumer spending while boosting corporate profits and stocks.
  • A change in producer prices may be a leading indicator of consumers paying more or less. Higher producer prices may mean consumers will pay more when they buy, whereas lower producer prices may mean consumers will pay less to retailers. For example, if the PPI gasoline index increases, you may see an increase soon at the pump!

To others (which may impact me!)?

  • Policymakers, such as the Federal Reserve, Congress, and federal agencies regularly watch the PPI when making fiscal and monetary policies, such as setting interest rates for consumers and businesses.
  • Business people use the PPI in deciding price strategies, as they measure price changes in inputs for their goods and services. For example, a company considering a price increase can use PPI data to compare the growth rate of their own prices with those in their industry.
  • Business people adjust purchase and sales contracts worth trillions of dollars by using the PPI family of indexes. These contracts typically specify dollar amounts to be paid at some point in the future. For example, a long-term contract for bread may be escalated for changes in wheat prices by applying the percent change in the PPI for wheat to the contracted price for bread.

Video: How the Producer Price Index is Used for Contract Adjustment

PPI is a voluntary survey completed by thousands of businesses nationwide every month. BLS carefully constructs survey samples to keep the number of contacts to a minimum, making every business, large and small, critical to the accuracy of the data. We thank you, our faithful respondents! Without you, BLS could not produce gold-standard PPI data.

Finally, check out the most recent monthly PPI release to get all the latest numbers. Head to the PPI Frequently Asked Questions to learn more. Or contact the PPI information folks at (202) 691-7705 or ppi-info@bls.gov.

Want to learn more about BLS price programs? See these blogs:

 

Reaching out to Stakeholders—and Steakholders—in Philadelphia

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has staff around the country who serve several critical roles:

  • Contacting employers and households to collect the vital economic information published by BLS
  • Working with partners in the states who also collect and review economic data
  • Analyzing and publishing regional, state, and local data and providing information to a wide variety of stakeholders

To expand the network of local stakeholders who are familiar with and use BLS data to help make good decisions, the BLS regional offices sponsor periodic Data User Conferences. The BLS office in Philadelphia recently held such an event, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

These Data User Conferences typically bring together experts from several broad topic areas. In Philadelphia, participants heard about trends in productivity measures; a mash-up of information on a single occupation—truck drivers—that shows the range of data available (pay and benefits, occupational requirements, and workplace safety); and an analysis of declines in labor force participation.

Typically, these events provide a mix of national and local data and try to include some timely local information. The Philadelphia conference included references to the recent Super Bowl victory by the Philadelphia Eagles and showed how to use the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator to compare buying power between 1960 (the last time the Eagles won the NFL Championship) and today.

We also tried to develop a cheesesteak index, a Philadelphia staple. Using data from the February 2018 Consumer Price Index, we can find the change in the price of cheesesteak ingredients over the past year.

Ingredient Change in Consumer Price Index, February 2017 to February 2018
White bread 2.5 percent decrease
Beef and veal 2.1 percent increase
Fresh vegetables 2.1 percent increase
Cheese and related products 0.8 percent decrease

Image of a Philadelphia cheesesteak

These data are for the nation as a whole and are available monthly. Consumer price data are also available for many metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia. These local data are typically available every other month and do not provide as much detail as the national data.

While the Data User Conferences focus on providing information, we also remind attendees the information is only available thanks to the voluntary cooperation of employers and households. The people who attend the conferences can help us produce gold standard data by cooperating with our data-collection efforts. In return we remind them we always have “live” economists available in their local BLS information office to answer questions by phone or email or help them find data quickly.

Although yet another Nor’easter storm was approaching, the recent Philadelphia Data User Conference included an enthusiastic audience who asked good questions and left with a greater understanding of BLS statistics. The next stop on the Data User Conference tour is Atlanta, later this year. Keep an eye on the BLS Southeast Regional Office webpage for more information.

Cooks, Chefs, and Bakers: If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen?

President Harry Truman popularized the phrase, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” He meant one should leave a task to others if the pressures become too difficult. In a more literal sense, we decided to look at jobs people perform in kitchens to see how likely they are to be exposed to heat. It turns out that people who work in kitchens often are exposed to both extreme heat and extreme cold. Yes, we have a stat for that!

According to the May 2017 estimates from our Occupational Employment Statistics survey, there are 2.4 million cooks, 131,430 chefs and head cooks, and 182,890 bakers employed in the United States. Let’s see what percentage of these workers are exposed to extreme temperatures.

The 2017 estimates from our Occupational Requirements Survey tell us what percentage of workers are exposed to extreme temperatures.

Chart showing percent of cooking jobs exposed to extreme heat or extreme cold.

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

We can make three observations based on these estimates.

1. Cooks are much more likely to work in extreme temperatures than a typical U.S. worker.

Among all U.S. workers, 9.3 percent are exposed to extreme heat on the job, and 8.5 percent are exposed to extreme cold. These numbers are small when compared to those of various types of cooks. For example, among chefs and head cooks, 71.3 percent work in extreme heat and 74.8 percent work in extreme cold.

2. For each cooking occupation, the likelihoods of working in extreme heat and extreme cold are about the same.

Most cooks in the United States have exposures to extreme heat, and similar percentages of cooks work in extreme cold. Fast food cooks are the only cooking occupation with a significant difference in the likelihoods of exposure to extreme heat and extreme cold.

3. Bakers are not like cooks.

Bakers, like the cooks, are more likely than a typical U.S. worker to work in an environment exposed to extreme temperatures. Bakers are less likely than cooks to work in extreme temperatures, however.

So, does President Truman’s old saying stand the test of empirical evidence? Yes, but only partially. The evidence suggests we should change the old saying slightly. Here is my suggestion: If you can’t stand the heat—or the cold—get out of the kitchen, or consider being a baker instead!

Percent of jobs where workers are exposed to extreme temperatures, 2017
Occupation Extreme cold Extreme heat
All Workers 8.5% 9.3%

Chefs and head cooks

74.8 71.3

Fast food cooks

72.1 55.1

Institution and cafeteria cooks

71.1 61.8

Restaurant cooks

70.8 67.4

Short order cooks

53.8 57.9

Bakers

32.9 28.6

Up and Down the Turnpike: The Power of State Estimates of Consumer Spending

You may know New Jersey for its Turnpike, its Parkway, and ribbons of highways crisscrossing the state, but new information shows that New Jersey households have fewer vehicles than the U.S. average. New Jersey households have an average of 1.4 vehicles, compared with an average of 1.8 vehicles nationwide.

This is just one of the tidbits we can glean from experimental state weights in the Consumer Expenditure Survey just released for New Jersey. Producing state estimates is part of our continuing plan to expand the use of data on consumer spending. The first available state weights are for New Jersey. We hope to release weights for more states in the coming months.

The survey is a nationwide household survey designed to find out how U.S. consumers spend their money. It is the only federal government survey that provides information on the full range of consumer spending, incomes, and demographic characteristics. One way BLS uses the consumer spending data is to create the market basket of goods and services tracked in the Consumer Price Index. Besides the spending information, the survey also collects the demographic characteristics of survey respondents. The new state weights allow us to examine what the typical New Jersey household looks like.

New Jersey looks similar to the United States as a whole, and even more similar to the New York metro area, which encompasses much of the northern part of New Jersey. One notable difference between New Jersey and other areas is the number of vehicles. Transportation in the Consumer Expenditure Survey includes vehicle purchases and gasoline and other car-related expenses. We would expect to see lower transportation spending in New Jersey compared with the nation because of fewer vehicles present in the state and other reasons.

A chart showing income and consumer spending levels in 2016 in New Jersey, the New York metro area, and the United States.

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Now that we can produce statistically valid state estimates from the survey, we can answer all kinds of interesting questions. Many researchers look at different spending categories to examine public policies and to evaluate how certain decisions affect consumer behavior. Because we can now use the survey data to make estimates for certain states, researchers can explore these kinds of questions with more geographic detail. The chart below shows how New Jersey compares with the New York metro area and the nation in five of the broadest spending categories.

Average annual consumer spending in 2016 for selected categories in New Jersey, the New York metro area, and the United States.

Editor’s note: Data for this chart are available in the table below.

Policymakers, researchers, and other data users have often asked for data about spending habits and income for states. Many times, household surveys just do not have enough sample to provide reliable estimates for all possible user needs. With our continuing improvements to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, we are learning which states provide enough responses for us to produce statistically valid state estimates. Once we create these weights for the states that can support them, data users will be able to explore a wider range of questions about consumer spending.

You can learn more from BLS economist Taylor Wilson’s article, “Consumer spending by state: BLS puts New Jersey to the test.”

Average annual income and selected expenditures, 2016
Measure New Jersey New York
Metropolitan
Statistical Area
United States
Income $89,927 $87,212 $74,069
Total expenditures 63,100 65,764 54,157
Transportation expenditures 7,295 6,828 8,755
Average consumer spending in selected categories, 2016
Geography Housing Food Transportation Healthcare Entertainment
New Jersey $23,617 $8,641 $7,295 $5,239 $2,097
New York Metropolitan Statistical Area 24,308 9,190 6,828 4,260 2,277
United States 17,774 7,203 8,755 4,373 2,497