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A Closer Look at Changes to the Occupational Makeup of Michigan’s Workforce

The release of the 2023 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) data marked the first time that this program measured occupational employment levels in Michigan above those observed in the 2019 pre-pandemic economy. After an approximate loss of 420,000 jobs were recorded from 2019 to 2020, subsequent annual gains of 135,000, 187,000, and 100,000 have pushed total occupational employment 3,000 jobs over the 2019 mark.

Higher-wage occupational groups have seen more employment growth since 2019.

Source: Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


While the total number of jobs has returned to a similar level, the distribution of these jobs across the 22 major occupational groups in which they are classified has changed. Whereas half of the 22 major occupational groups saw an increase in total employment from 2019 to 2023, those groups with relatively high wages saw more growth over the period than low-wage occupational groups. In fact, eight of the 11 groups that grew in employment over the period had a median wage above that of the statewide median ($22.57/hour). Major occupational groups that saw the most growth were Management occupations (+66,000), Business and financial operations occupations (+40,000), Transportation and material moving occupations (+12,000), and Computer and mathematical occupations (+12,000). Architecture and engineering occupations, which lost 13,000 jobs but had the third highest median wage, stood out as the greatest outlier to this trend.

There were four major groups in which total employment decreased by 25,000 or more from 2019 to 2023, all of which had median wages below the statewide median: Food preparation and serving related occupations (-38,000), Sales and related occupations (-38,000), Production occupations (-27,000), and Office and administrative support occupations (-27,000). These were also the four groups that saw the largest decrease in employment from 2019 to 2020, combining for a loss of over 260,000 jobs amid the pandemic while only adding 129,000 jobs from 2020 to 2023.

State Occupational Composition Compared to the U.S.

Percentage of total jobs among select occupational groups.


Source: Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


The composition of the Michigan workforce across major occupational groups is similar to that of the U.S. When comparing the share of total workers in each major group in Michigan to the U.S., every group is within one percentage point except for Production occupations and Architecture and engineering occupations. Production occupations make up 10.3 percent of all Michigan workers but only 5.8 percent of U.S. workers, while Architecture and engineering occupations make up 2.9 percent of the Michigan workforce but only 1.7 percent of total jobs nationally.

These two major occupational groups, both prevalent in auto manufacturing, have seen declines in Michigan since 2019. Architecture and engineering occupations, mentioned previously as losing over 13,000 jobs, saw occupational employment decrease 9.8 percent while Production occupations declined 5.9 percent. The national workforce in both of these groups shrank as well, although not as severely, with losses of 2.0 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Despite an overall reduction in occupational employment over the past four years, these groups remain a staple of the Michigan economy.

Jobs per 1,000 is a measure of the number of jobs in an occupation or major group per 1,000 jobs in a given area. In Michigan, there are 29 Architecture and engineering occupations per 1,000 jobs, which ranks first among all fifty states. Production occupations in Michigan ranks fourth among all states with 103 jobs per 1,000. Michigan also has a relatively high concentration of healthcare workers. Both Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations and Healthcare support workers rank in the top half of states in jobs per 1,000.


Two Michigan occupational groups rank in the top five amongst states in jobs per 1,000.

Major Occupational Group Jobs per 100 U.S. Rank
Architecture and Engineering Occupations


Production Occupations 103 4
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations 67 14
Healthcare Support Occupations 42 21
Community and Social Service Occupations 17 23
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations 12 24
Computer and Mathematical Occupations 29 26
Business and Financial Operations Occupations 60 27
Management Occupations 64 28
Legal Occupations 6 30
Sales and Related Occupations 85 30
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations 1 30
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations 29 31
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations 40 31
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations 85 31
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations 8 33
Personal Care and Service Occupations 19 35
Office and Administrative Support Occupations 119 36
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations 82 40
Construction and Extraction Occupations 36 40
Protective Service Occupations 18 42
Educational Instruction and Library Occupations 50 45
Source: Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 


It’s notable that the four major occupational groups that saw the greatest absolute increase in Michigan employment over the past four years (Management occupations, Business and financial operations occupations, Transportation and material moving occupations, and Computer and mathematical occupations) rank in the bottom half of states in employment concentration as measured by jobs per 1,000. A contributing factor is that growth in these major occupational groups is not unique to Michigan but prevalent across the country, as these same four major groups also led the U.S. in employment growth from 2019 to 2023.

In summary, Michigan’s employment rebound since the pandemic has seen concentrated growth in higher wage occupational groups while the lower wage occupational groups hit hardest in 2020 are still well below previous employment totals. Architecture and engineering occupations stood out as an outlier to this trend as a relatively high-wage group that saw reduced employment over the past four years. This group of employees, along with Production occupations, still have the highest concentration of workers in Michigan relative to other states.



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