Most common jobs 150 years ago in New Jersey

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August 5, 2022
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Most common jobs 150 years ago in New Jersey

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 U.S. economy that we know today has a long and storied history of expansions, recessions, and evolution.

At the time of the American Revolution, most of the job market in the U.S. revolved around agriculture or food acquisition in some way. Many individuals and communities farmed for subsistence, not even growing enough to have an excess to sell for profits. As the fledgling country grew, so did its economy, springing forth during the Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s and early 1800s, and inexorably shifting the nation’s economic focus from agrarian efforts to those of manufacturing, trade, and other forms of business. Inventions like the steam engine and cotton gin accelerated production, feeding a booming job market that was met with immigrants eager to find work.

By the mid- to late-1800s, the U.S. economy and job market was characterized by successive periods of rapid growth followed by panics or depressions. This economic disquiet was caused by stock speculation and oscillating levels of trust in the federal government’s ability to regulate cash flow and support banks. In turn, the uncertain economy produced a volatile job market.

In an effort to capture a snapshot of the U.S. job market’s history, Stacker compiled a list of the most common jobs in New Jersey from 150 years ago using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By transcribing the previously untranscribed Table XXVII from the 1870 decennial census, a state-level glimpse into the historic job market can be seen. Nationally, farmers and planters were the most common occupation 150 years ago, just one of the many agricultural jobs that made up more than 47% of all employed persons over ten years old.

Continue reading to find out more about the historical job market in your home state or explore the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

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#1. Laborers (not specified)

- New Jersey employment: 39,820
- National employment: 1,031,666
--- #3 most common job in the U.S.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#2. Farmers and planters

- New Jersey employment: 32,077
- National employment: 2,977,711
--- #1 most common job in the U.S.
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#3. Agricultural laborers

- New Jersey employment: 29,240
- National employment: 2,885,996
--- #2 most common job in the U.S.
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English Heritage/Heritage Images // Getty Images

#4. Domestic servants

- New Jersey employment: 26,242
- National employment: 975,734
--- #4 most common job in the U.S.
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Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

#5. Carpenters and joiners

- New Jersey employment: 12,569
- National employment: 344,596
--- #5 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#6. Clerks in stores

- New Jersey employment: 8,833
- National employment: 222,504
--- #6 most common job in the U.S.
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Lewis W. Hine // Library of Congress

#7. Tailors, tailoresses, and seamstresses

- New Jersey employment: 6,110
- National employment: 161,820
--- #8 most common job in the U.S.
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SSPL // Getty Images

#8. Employees of railroad companies (not clerks)

- New Jersey employment: 5,584
- National employment: 154,027
--- #9 most common job in the U.S.
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Frances Benjamin Johnston // Library of Congress

#9. Boot and shoe makers

- New Jersey employment: 5,349
- National employment: 171,127
--- #7 most common job in the U.S.
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Carl Mydans // Library of Congress

#10. Masons, brick and stone

- New Jersey employment: 4,235
- National employment: 89,710
--- #17 most common job in the U.S.
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Minnesota Historical Society/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

#11. Milliners, dress and mantua makers

- New Jersey employment: 3,840
- National employment: 92,084
--- #16 most common job in the U.S.
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#12. Blacksmiths

- New Jersey employment: 3,823
- National employment: 141,774
--- #11 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#13. Hat and cap makers

- New Jersey employment: 3,749
- National employment: 12,625
--- #78 most common job in the U.S.
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Library of Congress // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Painters and varnishers

- New Jersey employment: 3,549
- National employment: 85,123
--- #18 most common job in the U.S.
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Bain News Service // Library of Congress

#15. Draymen, hackmen, teamsters, &c

- New Jersey employment: 3,461
- National employment: 120,756
--- #13 most common job in the U.S.
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Charles Phelps Cushing/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#16. Traders and dealers (not specified)

- New Jersey employment: 3,268
- National employment: 100,406
--- #15 most common job in the U.S.
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Everett Collection // Shutterstock

#17. Teachers (not specified)

- New Jersey employment: 2,698
- National employment: 126,822
--- #12 most common job in the U.S.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#18. Traders and dealers in groceries

- New Jersey employment: 2,637
- National employment: 74,410
--- #19 most common job in the U.S.
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#19. Sailors

- New Jersey employment: 2,588
- National employment: 56,663
--- #23 most common job in the U.S.
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Everett Collection // Shutterstock

#20. Miners

- New Jersey employment: 2,556
- National employment: 152,107
--- #10 most common job in the U.S.
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W.E.B. DuBois // Library of Congress

#21. Gold and silver workers

- New Jersey employment: 2,553
- National employment: 18,508
--- #60 most common job in the U.S.
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#22. Silk-mill operatives

- New Jersey employment: 2,515
- National employment: 3,256
--- #163 most common job in the U.S.
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Everett Collection // Shutterstock

#23. Mill and factory operatives (not specified)

- New Jersey employment: 2,387
- National employment: 41,619
--- #33 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#24. Boatmen and watermen

- New Jersey employment: 2,225
- National employment: 21,332
--- #57 most common job in the U.S.
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Lewis W. Hine // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Cotton-mill operatives

- New Jersey employment: 2,215
- National employment: 111,606
--- #14 most common job in the U.S.
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Smith Collection/Gado // Getty Images

#26. Manufacturers

- New Jersey employment: 2,065
- National employment: 42,877
--- #29 most common job in the U.S.
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#27. Iron-foundry operatives

- New Jersey employment: 1,809
- National employment: 34,245
--- #39 most common job in the U.S.
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London Metropolitan Archives/Heritage Images // Getty Images

#28. Machinists

- New Jersey employment: 1,770
- National employment: 54,755
--- #24 most common job in the U.S.
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Lewis W. Hine // Library of Congress

#29. Glass-works operatives

- New Jersey employment: 1,619
- National employment: 9,518
--- #89 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#30. Engineers and firemen

- New Jersey employment: 1,570
- National employment: 34,233
--- #40 most common job in the U.S.
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#31. Launderers and laundresses

- New Jersey employment: 1,547
- National employment: 60,906
--- #21 most common job in the U.S.
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Everett Collection // Shutterstock

#32. Gardeners and nurserymen

- New Jersey employment: 1,520
- National employment: 31,435
--- #42 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#33. Book-keepers and accountants in stores

- New Jersey employment: 1,500
- National employment: 31,177
--- #43 most common job in the U.S.
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John C.H. Grabill // Library of Congress

#34. Officials of Government

- New Jersey employment: 1,406
- National employment: 44,743
--- #26 most common job in the U.S.
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Minnesota Historical Society/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

#35. Bakers

- New Jersey employment: 1,395
- National employment: 27,680
--- #47 most common job in the U.S.
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Seneca Ray Stoddard/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

#36. Restaurant-keepers

- New Jersey employment: 1,332
- National employment: 35,185
--- #38 most common job in the U.S.
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Matthias Weaver // Library of Congress

#37. Carriage and wagon makers

- New Jersey employment: 1,324
- National employment: 42,464
--- #31 most common job in the U.S.
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Kirn Vintage Stock//Corbis via Getty Images

#38. Brick and tile makers

- New Jersey employment: 1,310
- National employment: 26,070
--- #50 most common job in the U.S.
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Minnesota Historical Society/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

#39. Butchers

- New Jersey employment: 1,295
- National employment: 44,354
--- #27 most common job in the U.S.
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Daily Herald Archive/National Science & Media Museum/SSPL via Getty Images

#40. Harness and saddle makers

- New Jersey employment: 1,272
- National employment: 32,817
--- #41 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#41. Apprentices (not specified)

- New Jersey employment: 1,255
- National employment: 15,302
--- #71 most common job in the U.S.
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Gari Melchers // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Clergymen

- New Jersey employment: 1,230
- National employment: 43,874
--- #28 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#43. Physicians and surgeons

- New Jersey employment: 1,208
- National employment: 62,383
--- #20 most common job in the U.S.
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Andreas Larsen Dahl/Wisconsin Historical Society // Getty Images

#44. Wheelwrights

- New Jersey employment: 1,198
- National employment: 20,942
--- #58 most common job in the U.S.
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Lewis W. Hine/Buyenlarge // Getty Images

#45. Fishermen and oystermen

- New Jersey employment: 1,197
- National employment: 27,106
--- #48 most common job in the U.S.
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#46. Employees of trading and transportation co's

- New Jersey employment: 1,163
- National employment: 4,152
--- #140 most common job in the U.S.
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#47. Tinners

- New Jersey employment: 1,153
- National employment: 30,524
--- #44 most common job in the U.S.
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Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

#48. Printers

- New Jersey employment: 1,110
- National employment: 39,860
--- #36 most common job in the U.S.
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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#49. Iron and steel rolling-mill operatives

- New Jersey employment: 1,054
- National employment: 17,249
--- #65 most common job in the U.S.
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Boyer/Roger Viollet via Getty Images

#50. Curriers, tanners, and finishers of leather

- New Jersey employment: 998
- National employment: 28,702
--- #45 most common job in the U.S.

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