The U.S. economy is comprised of industries with diverse characteristics. Industries are defined by the processes they use to produce goods and services. Workers in the United States produce and provide a wide variety of products and services and as a result, the types of industries in the U.S. economy range widely - from agriculture, forestry, and fishing to aerospace manufacturing. Although many of these industries are related, each industry has a unique combination of occupations, production techniques, inputs and outputs, and business characteristics. Understanding the nature of the industry is important, because it is this unique combination that determines working conditions, educational requirements, and the job outlook for each of the industries.
Industries consist of many different places of work, called establishments, which range from large factories and office complexes employing thousands of workers to small businesses employing only a few workers. Not to be confused with companies, which are legal entities, establishments are physical locations in which people work, such as the branch office of a bank. Thus, a company may have more than one establishment. Establishments that use the same or similar processes to produce goods or services are organized together into industries. Industries are, in turn, organized together into industry groups. These are further organized into industry subsectors and then ultimately into industry sectors.
For the purposes of labor market analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics organizes industry sectors into industry supersectors and then divides the supersectors into two broad groups: Goods-producing industries (natural resources and mining; construction; and manufacturing) and service-providing industries (trade, transportation, and utilities; information; financial activities; professional and business services; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services; and public administration).
Each industry subsector is made up of a number of industry groups, which are determined by differences in production processes. An easily recognized example of these distinctions is in the food manufacturing subsector, which is made up of industry groups that produce meat products, preserved fruits and vegetables, bakery items, and dairy products, among others. Each of these industry groups requires workers with varying skills and employs unique production techniques. Another example of these distinctions is found in utilities, which employs workers in establishments that provide electricity, natural gas, and water.
Industries vary on a variety of factors. Here are comparisons across industries for a number of areas of interest:
Occupations in the Industry
Training and Advancement
Learn more about specific industries:
- Education and Health Services
- Financial Activities
- Leisure and Hospitality
- Natural Resources and Mining
- Other Services
- Professional and Business Services
- Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities
- Wholesale and Retail Trade
Information courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor.