Few would be surprised to learn that the Washington area is a haven for lawyers and a wasteland for ship captains, loggers and game wardens.
Less obvious to some, perhaps, is the high concentration of computer programmers in the region, thanks to the blossoming of technology companies in the past decade.
These insights into what people do and what they're paid are presented in a newly published survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It details for the first time occupations and wages in the nation's metropolitan areas.
In a Washington metro area work force of 2.3 million salaried employees, there were 23,380 lawyers, according to the 1997 BLS survey; 79,160 retail salesclerks; 34,920 waiters; 28,640 computer programmers, and 27,310 elementary-school teachers.
Teachers ($33,800 in average annual pay) make twice as much as janitors ($17,030) and less than half as much as lawyers ($80,000) or physicians ($88,250).
While the report doesn't try to explain the significance of these differences, it does provide a check of how pay and occupations in the District and its suburbs compare with nationwide figures. The survey covers some 800,000 U.S. business establishments.
The Washington area has roughly one lawyer and one computer programmer for every 100 employees in the work force, double the percentage in the nation as a whole. The concentration of computer systems analysts is also twice the national rate.
As befits a paper-pushing place, the capital area has a higher proportion of secretaries in the work force than does the nation overall. But its share of teachers and retail clerks is lower. Lawyers, managers and executives, and retail clerks in the Washington area make more money than the average for their occupations nationally, but local teachers do not. The region's computer programmers also make less than the U.S. average, perhaps because that industry is relatively young and fast-growing here.
The largest occupational category is what the BLS calls "general managers and top executives" -- a group whose duties are so diverse or general that they can't be pigeonholed into a particular job function. The Washington area has a larger than average share of these decision makers too.
"It's a sign of the versatility of the work force," says Stephen S. Fuller, regional analyst at George Mason University.
Or maybe the mark of a region with more than its share of people who like telling other people what to do.
The occupational employment statistics are at www. bls.gov/oes/oes data.htm on the Internet.
A Professional Look
Professional and technical workers make up the largest category of occupations in this area -- 29 percent, compared with a national average of 20 percent.
Washington area job classifications
Production, construction operators
Among Top-Paying D.C. Area Jobs
Aircraft pilots, flight engineers
Among the Lowest-Paying
Personal and home care aides
Motion picture projectionists
Among the Most Common D.C. Area Jobs
General managers and top executives
Retail salespeople (except cashiers)
Secretaries (except legal, medical)
Janitors, cleaners (except maids and housekeepers)
Computer systems analysts
Among the Least Common
Fallers, buckers (logging)
Hand cutters and trimmers
Fish and game wardens
NOTE: Some other occupations had too few employees to be included.
SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1997 survey of Washington metropolitan area businesses.