Idaho’s Most Common Job Is Truck Driver Or Retail Sales, Depending On Who You Ask

Apr 13, 2015

Truck driver is the most common job in most states, including here in Idaho, according to NPR's Planet Money team.

“Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation,” Planet Money’s blog explains.  “A worker in China can't drive a truck in Ohio [or Idaho] and machines can't drive cars (yet).” 

We sent Planet Money's report to researchers at Idaho’s Department of Labor who said truck driver isn't the most common Idaho job. 

“Truck drivers are interesting,” says Ethan Mansfield, an Idaho Labor Department regional economist. “They are not the most ‘common’ job in terms of abundance. They actually rank sixth behind retail salespersons, customer service reps, cashiers, office clerks and registered nurses. Jobs for truck drivers are, however, consistently the most posted jobs in the state and have been since June 2013.”

These two different takes on Idaho’s most-common job are a matter of how “truck driver” is defined and who is defining it. 

Planet Money used U.S. Census Bureau data that first passed through a population data center at the University of Minnesota. It uses a broad definition of truck driver. When Planet Money says it's the most common job in Idaho it includes people who drive all kinds of trucks, big and small. So someone who drives bread around a town on four wheels or someone who hauls oil around the country on 18 wheels is a truck driver.

But if someone from Idaho’s Department of Labor says truck driver is the 6th most common job in Idaho, that data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and he or she is talking about people who drive really big trucks like 18-wheelers or cement trucks.

Planet Money also tossed out a category it considered too broad that might have changed its take on Idaho: “salespersons not elsewhere classified.” Retail sales is Idaho’s most common job, according to the state. And in case you were wondering, here are the top 10 most-common jobs from the Idaho Department of Labor.

SOC stands for Standard Occupational Classification.
Credit Idaho Department of Labor

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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