Which Industries Created Most Jobs in 2013?

Published: Jan 14, 2014

 Consulting       Job Search       

While it may have disappointed on a monthly basis, data in the most recent BLS labor report indicates that private industry in the U.S. created some 1.7 million jobs in 2013. I looked at the data from a couple of different angles, to try to figure out where job seekers had the best chance of landing a freshly-created position in 2013 (hint: not the government--state and federal agencies cut around 390,000 positions over the same period). Part of my rationale: while past performance is no guarantee of future gains, I'm laboring under the assumption that industries that performed well in 2013 may well do so again this year—or at least the opening months of the year. Even if they don't, however, there's no harm in gaining a wider perspective on the employment picture.

Of course, there are a couple of different, and distinct, ways of looking at job growth data. Percentage growth can alert us to industries that are growing rapidly, and may yield some clues about hot fields and sectors. As you will see from the first table below, however, smaller sectors have an easier time registering a high rate of growth than industries that employ significantly more people. For that reason, I've also provided a list of the industries that hired the most people in terms of sheer volumes of positions created throughout the year. Between the two lists, you may be able to draw some conclusions about the state of the economy, and where your own skills and knowledge may be best suited. 

Without further ado, then, here are the 20 fastest-growing employee sectors in 2013.*


RankIndustry% ChangeJobs Created, 2013
1    Amusements, gambling, and recreation14.09%183,000
2    Scenic and sightseeing transportation12.72%2,900
3    Arts, entertainment, and recreation11.62%212,100
4    Museums, historical sites, and similar institutions7.38%9,600
5    Residential specialty trade contractors7.01%103,200
6    Services to buildings and dwellings6.68%118,000
7    Building material and garden supply stores6.60%75,100
8    Temporary help services6.24%165,400
9    Outpatient care centers6.05%40,600
10   Employment services5.88%194,400
11   Oil and gas extraction5.76%11,000
12   Accommodation5.17%90,800
13   Home health care services5.04%62,700
14   Support activities for mining5.01%19,700
15   Performing arts and spectator sports4.91%19,500
16   Administrative and support services4.86%379,100
17   Motor vehicles and parts4.72%37,200
18   Rental and leasing services4.66%23,600
19   Heavy and civil engineering construction4.47%37,900
20   Residential building4.47%25,700


And here are the 20 industries that added the most employees in 2013.* 


RankIndustry% ChangeJobs Created, 2013
1    Food services and drinking places3.96%396,400
2    Administrative and support services4.86%379,100
3    Arts, entertainment, and recreation11.62%212,100
4    Employment services5.88%194,400
5    Amusements, gambling, and recreation14.09%183,000
6    Health care1.16%168,600
7    Temporary help services6.24%165,400
8    Ambulatory health care services2.44%157,500
9    Professional and technical services1.73%138,900
10   Services to buildings and dwellings6.68%118,000
11   Local government, excluding education1.69%104,800
12   Residential specialty trade contractors7.01%103,200
13   Accommodation5.17%90,800
14   Building material and garden supply stores6.60%75,100
15   Motor vehicle and parts dealers4.09%71,000
16   Home health care services5.04%62,700
17   Social assistance2.06%56,000
18   Food and beverage stores1.73%50,300
19   Computer systems design and related services2.93%48,700
20   Management and technical consulting services3.96%45,900


As you can see, there are a few crossovers—sectors that are both growing at a rapid clip and creating a substantial number of jobs. These include lots of positions in the recreation and entertainment fields, suggesting that consumers are perhaps starting to relax their spending habits—potentially a good sign for the economy as a whole. Additionally, the number of positions related to residential contracting (roughly:  homebuilding) suggests an improvement in that market, which has been one of the worst affected since the onset of the recession.

Finally, as the Consulting Industry Editor here at Vault, I'm pleased to see the "management and technical consulting services" sector sneaking into the top 20 for most jobs added. This time last year, the consulting industry was being tipped for a strong year—which I covered here—and the growth in jobs in the sector is another sign that we could be looking at a good year ahead for the market at large; firms often hire consultants to plan new projects and initiatives that will require full-time staffing to execute.


Related: Which Industries Lost Most Jobs in 2013?


*A quick note on the data: the BLS nests its data, so that, for example, Accommodation is a sub-industry in the larger Accommodation and Food Services category, which itself is contained in the overall Leisure and Hospitality category. To get a better sense of market conditions, I chose to screen out the larger industry classifications and to focus on the "lowest" levels (Accommodation, rather than Leisure and Hospitality), except where doing so would have caused confusion or a discrepancy in the data. The full BLS data table can be found here.