In place of those missing manufacturing jobs, the health-care and social assistance industries have nearly doubled in size, from 9.1 million in 1990 to just over 18 million today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, the health care and social assistance industries are the largest employers in 34 states.
The transition from a manufacturing-dominated economy to a health care-driven economy wasn’t direct. As manufacturing jobs declined in the middle of the 1990s, retail trade jobs took over. By 2003, retail employers were the largest source of jobs in 21 states. Retail jobs were hit hard by the recession; between 2008 and 2009, 13 states went from retail-dominant to health care-dominant.
Here’s how the evolution happened, according to yearly reports compiled for the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Editor’s Desk blog: