This Great Graphic was posted by Rani Molla of Wall Street Journal. It draws on Bureau of Labor Statistics data to show the industry with the highest employment by state. There is a snapshot from 1990 and from 2013. In a word, this short quarter of a century saw a marked shift from manufacturing employment to healthcare (and social assistance). Manufacturing was the largest employer in 37 states in 1990. In 2013, it was the largest employment in 7 states.
The BLS links the shift to the 2008-2009 recession, as the retail trade, manufacturing and sectors contracted. For the country as a whole, the number employed in manufacturing fell below healthcare employment in 2004.
A secondary phenomenon has been the downgrade of retail employment in the western mountain states. It was superseded by healthcare (and social assistance). However, retail trade eclipsed manufacturing in Utah. Wyoming is also interesting in that its largest employer shifted to accommodation and food services from retail trade. Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia employment shifted from manufacturing to retail trade.
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