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Largest occupations in private and government sectors, May 2009

August 03, 2010

Retail salespersons and cashiers were the two largest occupations in the private sector in May 2009. Postal service mail carriers; correctional officers and jailers; and elementary school teachers, except special education, had the highest employment among all occupations in Federal, State, and local government, respectively.

Largest occupations in the private and government sectors, May 2009
[Chart data]

Retail salespersons and cashiers had employment levels of 4.2 and 3.4 million, respectively; these two occupations combined represented almost 7 percent of total employment in the private sector. The third largest private sector occupation, combined food preparation and serving workers, with employment of 2.5 million, accounted for slightly more than 2 percent of total employment in the private sector.

The largest occupations in Federal Government included the following: Postal service mail carriers (with employment of 339,030); all other business operations specialists (170,450); postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators (162,860); and compliance officers, except agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation (99,570). Four occupations specific to the U.S. Postal Service accounted for 23 percent of federal employment.

Employment in State government was more widely distributed by occupation than employment in Federal and local government. Although correctional officers and jailers was the largest occupation, with an employment level of 257,280, it accounted for only about 6 percent of state government employment.

Employment in local government was concentrated in teaching occupations. Three of the largest—elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers, except special education—with employment totaling 3.0 million, accounted for 20 percent of local government employment. Other large occupations were protective service occupations such as police and sheriff's patrol officers (556,420).

These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. To learn more, see "Occupational Employment and Wages by Ownership — May 2009" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-10-1045. Previously released OES data have not included separate tabulations by ownership.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Largest occupations in private and government sectors, May 2009 at (visited May 21, 2024).

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