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Occupation & Employment Data for Market Research

About US Occupation Data 

When doing market research you may need to know the number of people employed in specific occupations (teacher) or industries (education) in the United States.

The available data data varies by: 

  • Level of geography (national, state, metro area)
  • Counting by occupation vs. industry
  • Including self-employed workers
  • Covering people with multiple jobs

Recommended Sources by Primary Need

Because there are many ways employment data is collected, you have to chose which source to use. Your needs will determine which is the best source to use.

Quick Occupation Overview

Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the data comes from multiple sources).

The overviews (example: Athletic Trainers) include the projected number of people employed in this occupation and average salaries.

Detailed Occupation Data by Multiple Geographies

Use the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Use the Occupation Profiles for quick access to the data. When on a specific occupation's page, you can download detailed data in XLS files at the bottom of the page.

About the data:

  • Data comes from a survey sent to employers who employ full and part time workers in non-farm industries.
  • It does not include self-employed workers.
  • It does capture people who are employed by more than employer.
  • See more methodology information.
  • For similar data that is collected monthly, see the Current Employment Statistics and this table of Bureau of Labor Statistics employment and unemployment data by geographic coverage.

Detailed Occupation Data, Including Self-Employment

Use the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) in Social Explorer (see below). 

About the data: 

  • Data comes from a survey sent to individuals in the US. 
  • It does include self-employed workers. 
  • Respondents can only list one occupation.
  • Detailed occupation data is only available at the national level.
  • See more methodology information

To get the data from Social Explorer:

  1. In the left navigation, go to Tables.
  2. Under American Community Surveys pick an option and press Begin Report. (The 5 Year estimates are more statistically reliable as there is more data, but it will be for the last five years rather than more current.)
  3. Select the United States and press Add. Click Proceed to Tables
  4. Change the first drop-down to the American Community Survey Tables.
  5. In the selection box, scroll until B24114 and select the desired variables (you might want B24114-B24126). Press Add
  6. Click Show Results. It may be easier to download to Excel so you can filter for the specific occupation you're after. 
  7. Repeat this process with the older data tables to get historical data. 

More details about other government surveys that collect some self-employment occupation data: 

  • The BLS doesn't collect detailed occupation data on self-employed workers. In the Current Population Survey they do collect information on those who are self-employed as a "characteristic of the employed" but the occupation data is only for broad categories like the service industry rather than specific occupations.
  • The Census Bureau's Nonemployer Statistics cover self-employed workers, but they only cover broad industries rather than occupations.

Other Recommendations

See if you can find other estimates or ways of measuring an occupation's size. Here are some ideas:

  • See if top industry associations have any internally generated estimates or numbers.
  • If the occupation requires licensure, see if the licensing body or bodies have numbers. Note that many professional licenses are done at the state level, so getting the information nationally will be more challenging. 
  • If the occupation has a clearly aligned professional degree requirement, you could use degree conferral data from IPEDS to get a sense of the market. 
  • Search for articles to see if there are other sources being used. 

Answered By: Alice Kalinowski
Last Updated: Apr 01, 2021

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