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In May 2022, 34.7 million people worked in the trades in the US. The Department of Labor categorizes skilled trade professions into five groups: farming, fishing, and forestry; construction and extraction; installation, maintenance and repair; production; and transportation and material moving.

The installation, maintenance and repair occupation group includes people who work in electrical, electronic equipment, and vehicle mechanics, installers, and repairers. Production workers include engine assemblers, butchers, food processing workers, laundry workers, and jewelers.

What are the most common trade jobs?

In 2022, material-moving workers comprised 22.8% of skilled trade workers, amounting to 7.9 million people, making it the most common trade job. Material-moving workers perform jobs such as conveyor, crane, and tractor operation; order filling; and refuse and recyclable collecting.

The next most common trade jobs were in construction, which includes plumbers, carpenters, and electricians, motor vehicle operators, such as truck drivers, driver/sales workers (food or laundry delivery services), ambulance, bus, and taxi drivers, and other installation, maintenance, and repair workers.

In 2022, 13.6 million American adults — 39% of skilled trade employees — worked in transportation and material moving occupations. Production followed (25%), then construction and extraction (18%), installation, maintenance, and repair (17%), and farming, fishing, and forestry (1%).

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Which trades are most in demand?

Between 2022 and 2023, material-moving positions are projected to have the highest annual average number of projected job openings at 1.2 million. Other trade jobs in highest demand are motor vehicle operation (589,200 average annual job openings, 2022-2032), construction trade jobs (488,100), and other installation, maintenance, and repair jobs (318,700).

What trades are growing?

The BLS expects the number of motor vehicle operators to increase by 6.9% between 2022 and 2032 — the largest increase of all trade jobs.[1] Air transportation jobs (6.6%), other installation, maintenance, and repair jobs (5.1%), and material moving workers (4.8%) have the next highest projected increases in employment during this period.

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Employment by Detailed Occupation
Last updated
September 2023
American Community Survey
Last updated
November 2023

These increases are for the “minor occupational group,” a subset of major occupational groups as determined by the BLS.