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March 2006

Occupational changes during the 20th century

Ian D. Wyatt, Daniel Hecker

With occupation data from the 2000 census now available, it is an appropriate time to analyze occupational employment trends over the 20th century. The shift from a workforce composed mostly of manual workers to one comprising mostly white-collar and service workers is generally known. This article reveals just how radical that shift has been. Professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers (except private household service workers) grew from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment between 1910 and 2000. Laborers (except mine laborers), private household service workers, and farmers lost the most jobs over the period.

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