Tag Archives: Occupational profiles

The Griswold Family Vacation through the Lens of BLS Data

We have a guest blogger for this edition of Commissioner’s Corner. Joy Langston is a budget analyst at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. She enjoys watching classic movies when she’s not working.

As summer wraps up, let’s slow the transition into cooler weather to explore the dream American summer vacation of the Griswold family. America first met the Griswolds in the cult classic National Lampoon’s Vacation. We’ll relive their vacation through the lens of our gold-standard data. Clark Griswold, the easygoing and optimistic patriarch of the family, wants a fun vacation with his wife, Ellen, and adolescent son and daughter, Rusty and Audrey, before the kids grow up. For the past 15 years, Clark has worked as a food scientist creating “new and better food additives.” Data from the 2017 Employee Benefits Survey show that after 10 years of service, full-time workers like Clark receive on average 18 days of vacation, or almost 4 weeks.

Since he has the time, Clark decides to lead the family on a cross-country expedition from the Chicago suburbs to Walley World — “America’s Favorite Family Fun Park” in Southern California. Ellen agrees to the destination but wants to fly, as it will be less of a hassle. However, data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys suggest driving may not be a bad idea. The average amount a household spent on vacations was $2,076 in 2017, with $684 for transportation costs, so flying from Chicago to Southern California was likely not in the Griswolds’ budget. To jumpstart this trip, Clark ordered the new “Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon with the Rally Fun Pack” from the local car dealership. He is scammed into buying the far less appealing, but now iconic, metallic pea, wood grained trimmed station wagon instead. Nevertheless, Clark is determined to make this the best family vacation ever.

Eventually, Ellen gives in to her husband’s enthusiasm and the Griswolds embark on their adventure, but not before stopping for their first tank of gas. You may remember that Clark struggled to find the gas tank, which was ridiculously located under the hood, by the engine, on the passenger’s side. The average household spent $109 in 2017 on gas for out-of-town trips and $1,797 for all uses. In July 2018, the national average price of gas was $2.93 per gallon, according to the Consumer Price Index. Although America has traded in station wagons for SUVs, neither are gas efficient and the Griswolds probably had to fuel up frequently on the 2,460-mile drive.

The family’s first misstep includes taking the wrong exit in St. Louis, Missouri, where they lose a couple of car parts while stopping to ask for directions in a questionable neighborhood. Despite this portrayal of St. Louis, the Occupational Employment Statistics data show this metro area had about 1.4 million jobs in 2017. About 16 percent of them were in office and administrative support occupations, with an average wage of $37,720 per year. Another 10 percent of jobs were in sales and related occupations, and 7 percent were in healthcare practitioners and technical occupations.

Driving through Kansas, they stop in Dodge City to experience life in the Wild West and order drinks in a saloon. According to the Current Employment Statistics survey, stops like these, including historical sites and other historical institutions, provide an average of 69,000 jobs from May to August nationwide.

The Griswolds make it to Coolidge, Kansas, where Ellen’s cousins live. The cousins pressure Clark and Ellen into dropping off cantankerous Aunt Edna — and her equally feisty dog — at her son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. According to the American Time Use Survey Americans spend an average of 39 minutes a day — or about 237 hours a year — socializing and communicating in person. The survey also shows that Americans spend an average 4 minutes a day caring for and helping nonhousehold adults. The Griswold family gets a concentrated dose of this social activity by adding Aunt Edna to their road trip party.

For lunch, they stop off at rest stop to enjoy some homemade sandwiches. The average American household spent $56 in 2017 on food prepared for out-of-town trips, and $3,365 on food away from home (including fast food establishments and full service restaurants). The Griswolds’ enjoyment is cut short when they realize there is more to their soggy baloney cheese sandwiches than they bargained for. As it turns out, Aunt Edna’s spiteful dog used the picnic basket as a bathroom during the car ride. If you’re driving with a pet and want to avoid this mishap, Kansas has more than 4,600 restaurants and eating places to choose from, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

They spend the night in one of Colorado’s 98 campgrounds in three large, smelly tents. Despite their positive attitudes the next morning, the Griswolds meet with more misfortunes, including being pulled over by a state trooper, Ellen losing her bag with the credit cards, quarrels over their dwindling cash supply, and crashing in the Arizona desert while trying to find a shortcut to the Grand Canyon. After they are rescued and towed to a service station, Clark haggles with the local mechanic, who doubles as the local sheriff, and takes the rest of Clark’s cash. The average American household spent $954 on car maintenance and repairs in 2017, although costs usually are spread throughout the year and not on vacation misadventures.

By the time they drop off Aunt Edna in Phoenix, Ellen and the kids are begging Clark to buy plane tickets to go back home. However, Clark’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned, and he declares this road trip a pilgrimage.

When they finally arrive at Walley World, they discover it is closed for the next two weeks for repairs. Exasperated, Clark demands the security guard open the gates and let the family into the park. After a couple rollercoaster rides, the SWAT team and owner of the park, Roy Walley, arrive. As the police put handcuffs on Clark’s family, Clark begs Roy not to press charges. Clark persuades Roy not only to drop the charges but to allow the family to stay and enjoy all the rides! Americans do love their theme parks. There were nearly 1,000 theme parks in the United States in 2017, with 87 of them in California. These parks provided 185,000 jobs nationwide. This industry increased its labor productivity 13.7 percent in 2017, as theme parks reported higher output while hours worked by employees decreased.

Over the course of their trip, the Griswolds share a number of experiences, many of which either hit a little too close to home, or we hope to never experience for ourselves. After a long and tiresome trip, we hope Ellen finally has her way and Clark doesn’t force the Griswolds to spend another two weeks driving back to Chicago, which would deplete all his vacation days! This classic summer movie shows that BLS really does have a stat for that!

Labor Day 2018 Fast Facts

About 92 percent of civilian workers with access to paid holidays receive Labor Day as a paid holiday. Before you set out for that long holiday weekend, take a moment to look at some fast facts we’ve compiled that show the current picture of our labor market.

Working

Working or Looking for Work

  • The civilian labor force participation rate—the share of the population working or looking for work—was 62.9 percent in July. The rate had trended down from the 2000s through the early 2010s, but it has remained fairly steady since 2014.

Not Working

  • The unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in July. After 6 months at 4.1 percent, the rate has had offsetting movements in recent months. In May, the rate hit its lowest point, 3.8 percent, since April 2000.
  • In July, there were 1.4 million long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more). This represented 22.7 percent of the unemployed, down from a peak of 45.5 percent in April 2010 but still above the 16-percent share seen in late 2006.
  • Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers was 13.1 percent in July, while the rates were 3.4 percent for adult men and 3.7 percent for adult women. The unemployment rate was 6.6 percent for Blacks or African Americans, 4.5 percent for Hispanics or Latinos, 3.1 percent for Asians, and 3.4 percent for Whites.

Job Openings

Pay and Benefits

  • Average weekly earnings rose by 3.0 percent between July 2017 and July 2018; adjusted for inflation, real average weekly earnings are up 0.1 percent during this period.
  • Civilian compensation (wage and benefit) costs increased 2.8 percent between June 2017 and June 2018; adjusted for inflation, real compensation costs decreased 0.1 percent during this period.
  • Paid leave benefits are available to most private industry workers. The access rates in March 2018 were 71 percent for sick leave, 77 percent for vacation, and 78 percent for holidays.
  • In March 2018, civilian workers paid 20 percent of the cost of medical care premiums for single coverage and 32 percent for family coverage.

Productivity

  • Labor productivity—output per hour worked—in the U.S. nonfarm business sector grew 1.1 percent in 2017, continuing the historically below-average pace seen since the Great Recession. Some industries had impressive growth, however, including wireless telecommunications carriers (11.1 percent) and electronics and appliance stores (9 percent).
  • Multifactor productivity growth in the private nonfarm business sector recovered in 2017, rising 0.9 percent after falling 0.6 percent in 2016. Labor input for multifactor productivity—measured using the combined effects of hours worked and labor composition—grew 2.0 percent in 2017, outpacing the long-term 1987–2017 growth for labor input by 0.5 percentage points.

Safety and Health

  • In 2017, 14.3 percent of all workers were exposed to hazardous contaminants. The use of personal protective equipment was required for 11.8 percent of workers.

Education

  • Occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry made up 21.5 percent of employment. This educational category includes registered nurses, teachers at the kindergarten through secondary levels, and many management, business and financial operations, computer, and engineering occupations.
  • For 18 of the 30 occupations projected to grow the fastest between 2016 and 2026, some postsecondary education is typically required for entry.

Unionization

  • The union membership rate—the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions—was 10.7 percent in 2017, unchanged from 2016. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent.
  • Total employer compensation costs for union workers were $47.65 and for nonunion workers $32.87 per employee hour worked. The cost of benefits accounted for 40.4 percent of total compensation or $19.23 for union workers and 29.1 percent or $9.56 for nonunion workers.

Work Stoppages

  • In the first 7 months of 2018, there were 445,000 workers involved in work stoppages that began this year. This is the largest number of workers involved in stoppages since 2000, when 394,000 workers were involved. There have been 12 stoppages beginning this year, which surpassed the 7 recorded in all of 2017.

From an American worker’s first job to retirement and everything in between, BLS has a stat for that! Want to learn more? Follow us on Twitter @BLS_gov.

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.

 

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

Most Popular Items in the Occupational Outlook Handbook

Editor’s note: This blog was corrected on January 30, 2018. For more information, see Corrected Self-Employment Estimates for 2016–26.

Interested in becoming a detective or a veterinarian or a software developer? You are not alone. These occupations are among the most visited pages of the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, our online career information guide.

On October 24, BLS released the 2016–26 Employment Projections and incorporated these projections into updates of the Handbook, which features 325 occupational profiles. Think you know everything a doctor or a police officer does from watching reruns of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Law and Order: SVU”? Think again. The BLS profiles discuss what workers do in an occupation, the education and training needed to work in an occupation, the pay, the job outlook, and other topics.

Just over one-third of all visits to the BLS website are to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, making it our most popular product. Here is a list of the top 10 most viewed profiles over the past year.

Rank Profile name 2016 Employment Employment change, 2016–26 Percent employment change, 2016–26 Typical education 2016 Median Wage
1 Physicians and Surgeons 713,800 91,400 13% Doctoral or professional degree >=$208,000
2 Registered Nurses 2,955,200 438,100 15% Bachelor’s degree $68,450
3 Police and Detectives 807,000 53,400 7% High school diploma $61,600
4 Lawyers 792,500 65,000 8% Doctoral or professional degree $118,160
5 Accountants and Auditors 1,397,700 139,900 10% Bachelor’s degree $68,150
6 Software Developers 1,256,200 302,500 24% Bachelor’s degree $102,280
7 Psychologists 166,600 23,000 14% Doctoral or professional degree $75,230
8 Veterinarians 79,600 15,000 19% Doctoral or professional degree $88,770
9 Physical Therapists 239,800 67,100 28% Doctoral or professional degree $85,400
10 Military Careers 2,100,000 High school diploma
Note: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not make projections or collect wage data for military occupations. Employment is from the Defense Manpower Data Center.

These occupations have some characteristics in common.

  • Most are well known and involve contact with the public.
  • Most require college or graduate education.
  • All are high paying.
  • Most are large occupations, although not all are among the fastest growing.

Most of us have some idea what workers in these occupations do. Either we come in contact with them on a regular basis (like doctors) or we see them on TV or in the movies (like lawyers). And while there haven’t been a lot of movies made about software developers, millions of people every day use many of their products, like mobile phone apps.

Many of the most popular occupations require a lot of education. Half require a doctoral or professional degree. In contrast, fewer than one in ten occupations across the economy requires that much education. Only two occupations on the list require a high school diploma.

The top ranked occupational profile, physicians and surgeons, is among the highest paid occupations. The rest of the list includes occupations that pay well above the 2016 median wage of $37,040.

Although nearly all the top ten profiles are projected to grow faster than average (7.4 percent), only physical therapists and software developers are also among the fastest growing occupations. Other than veterinarians, all employ over 100,000 workers, and four employ more than 1 million workers each.

Not interested in becoming an accountant or a psychologist? There are over 300 more occupational profiles available for you to explore.