Once a Nation of Secretaries, Now a Nation of Truck Drivers

Over at NPR, there’s a map with the most common job by U.S. state from 1978 to 2014. What interesting is that, in 1978, we have a geographically diverse workforce:


By 1988, secretaries seem to be skyrocketing:


Then, from about 2000 on, truck drivers are the most common job in most states:


I find the explanation for secretaries in 1988 interesting:

Through much of the ’80s, as the U.S. economy shifted away from factories that make goods and toward offices that provide services, secretary became the most common job in more and more states. But a second shift — the rise of the personal computer — reversed this trend, as machines did more and more secretarial work.

When I remember back to the mid- to late-1980s, I really don’t think anyone realized that the position of secretary, which really was ubiquitous outside of industrial areas, would decline so rapidly. Then again, nobody would have thought that bank tellers would be poor or barely hanging on.

Kinda makes you wonder about long range predictions.

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3 Responses to Once a Nation of Secretaries, Now a Nation of Truck Drivers

  1. Consumption is the dance that requires endless refueling. I’m sure the advent of online shopping and cheap labor offshoring has accelerated the articulated lorry.

  2. jrkridea says:

    My handwriting is terrible. Back, lo, many years ago, when I was in primary school my teacher was discusing this with our school inspector. His comment, “Don’t worry too much aboat it, if he’s ever in situation like that he’ll have a secretary”.

    Now they are so rare in my neck-of-the-woods that I believe there is a move to have them listed under the Species at Risk Act.

  3. Pingback: The changing U.S. economy in three maps | Phil Ebersole's Blog

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