Labor Day: America at work

  • Most common job

    Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    As of last year, 4.5 million people worked in the retail sector, making it the country's largest occupational grouping, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    The average 2012 median pay in retail was $10.29 an hour, or $21,410 a year, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Employment in retail sales is forecast to grow roughly 10 percent over the next decade or so, in line with other professions.

    The wild card? The Internet. The explosion of online shopping could curb demand for salespeople, according to the agency. And the explosion of part-time and temporary jobs in retail has also left many workers with low pay and few benefits.

    The second-most common job in the U.S. these days is cashier, employing 3.3 million workers, followed by food preparation and service, office clerks and nurses. The largest occupation a century ago? Farmers. The fastest-growing field over the next eight years or so is nursing.

  • Alain Sherter On Twitter»

    Alain Sherter is an award-winning business journalist who has written for The Deal, MarketWatch and Thomson Financial Media.

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