Most Common Jobs 150 Years Ago in West Virginia

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact the global economy, the current job market is a hot topic in the news cycle. But while the pandemic itself is, historically, something of an economic aberration, the American economy we know today has a long history of booms, busts, and evolution.

At the time of the American Revolution, most of the job market in the US revolved around farming or buying food in some way. Many individuals and communities farmed for a living, not even growing large enough to have a surplus to sell for profit.

As the fledgling country grew, so did its economy, emerging during the Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s and early 1800s, and inexorably shifting the nation’s economic focus from agrarian endeavors to those of manufacturing, trade, and other forms of business.

Inventions like the steam engine and the cotton gin sped up production, fueling a booming job market that was met with immigrants eager to find work.

During the mid to late 19th century, the US economy and labor market were characterized by successive periods of rapid growth followed by panics or depressions. This economic unrest was caused by stock market speculation and fluctuating levels of confidence in the federal government’s ability to regulate cash flow and support banks. In turn, the uncertain economy produced a volatile labor market.

In an effort to capture a snapshot of US labor market history, Stacker compiled a list of the most common jobs in West Virginia from 150 years ago using data from the US Census Bureau by transcribing the Previously untranscribed Table XXVII from the 1870 decennial census, a statewide look at the historical labor market can be seen. Nationwide, farmers and planters were the most common occupation 150 years ago, just one of many farm jobs that made up more than 47% of all employed people over the age of ten.

Read on to learn more about the historical job market in your home state, or explore the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

#one. Farmers and planters

– Employment in West Virginia: 43,702
– National employment: 2,977,711
— #1 most common job in the US

#two. farm workers

– Employment in West Virginia: 30,087
– National employment: 2,885,996
— #2 most common job in the US

#3. domestic servants

– Employment in West Virginia: 6,676
– National employment: 975,734
— #4 most common job in the US

#4. Workers (unspecified)

– Employment in West Virginia: 5,815
– National employment: 1,031,666
— #3 most common job in the US

#5. carpenters and carpenters

– Employment in West Virginia: 2,526
– National employment: 344,596
— #5 most common job in the US

#6. Employees of railway companies (not employees)

– Employment in West Virginia: 2504
– National employment: 154,027
— #9 most common job in the US

#7. miners

– Employment in West Virginia: 1,525
– National employment: 152,107
— #10 most common job in the US

#8. Smithy

– Employment in West Virginia: 1,423
– National employment: 141,774
— #11 most common job in the US

#9. Iron and steel mill operators

– Employment in West Virginia: 1,366
– National employment: 17,249
— #65 most common job in the US

#10. store clerks

– Employment in West Virginia: 1,228
– National employment: 222,504
— #6 most common job in the US

#eleven. Shoe and boot manufacturers

– Employment in West Virginia: 1,066
– National employment: 171,127

— #7 most common job in the US

#12. coopers

– Employment in West Virginia: 940
– National employment: 41,789
— #32 most common job in the US

#13. Professors (unspecified)

– Employment in West Virginia: 866
– National employment: 126,822
— #12 most common job in the US

#14. Masons, brick and stone

– Employment in West Virginia: 774
– National employment: 89,710
— #17 most common job in the US

#fifteen. Tailors, tailors and seamstresses

– Employment in West Virginia: 730
– National employment: 161,820
— #8 most common job in the US

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