Which jobs employ most people in the EU? Which are growing and declining most?

Close to 1 in 10 workers in the EU are employed in just two jobs – sales workers in the retail sector and teaching professionals in the education sector – according to findings from the European Jobs Monitor 2014, just published.

This research identified over 3,000 jobs across the EU, defining a job as a specific occupation within a specific sector, and found that a small number of jobs account for a large amount of employment in all countries. One-quarter of EU employment is concentrated in the 10 below.

In countries where agriculture is a big employer, such as Greece and Romania, 20 jobs or fewer employ half of all workers.

List of top 10 jobs that employ most people in the EU


Growing jobs

The research also examined which jobs have grown most in the recent past and which have declined most. What is most notable about the jobs that have shown most growth is that they have tended to be at either end of the pay spectrum.

The top two jobs for growth – ICT professionals in computer programming and health professionals in the health sector – are in the top pay quintile. (This means that when all jobs are categorised into five categories of equal size on the basis of pay and ordered from lowest to highest, 1 to 5, these two jobs are in quintile 5). Two more of the top 10 for growth are in this quintile. Then the third, fourth and fifth jobs in the list are in the lowest-paying quintile, quintile 1.

List of top 10 jobs that grew most


Declining jobs

The jobs that have declined most are nearly all middle-paying jobs (quintiles 2–4). Three are in the construction sector, where EU employment has decreased more or less continuously for five years. One is in agriculture, which is in long-term decline.

List of top 10 jobs that lost most employees

According to some analysts, the decline of many middle-ranking jobs can be attributed to the nature of the tasks in those jobs: routine and systematic. These have been in decline over many years in developed economies as a result of workers being replaced by technology or jobs being lost because of offshoring and increased global competition.

It is notable that the gains in jobs that showed growth have been much more modest than the losses in the jobs that contracted. In only 2 jobs were there net increases of over 100,000 workers, compared to 11 jobs that experienced the same scale of net job losses.

This in part reflects the recession. It also reflects a greater relative concentration of losses in the top 10 declining jobs – 28% of total net loss occurred in these jobs – as well as a more even spread of gains across the growing jobs – only 18% of total net growth took place in the top 10 growing jobs.

Note: The appearance of health associate professionals in the human health activities sector in the list of declining jobs is surprising, as health sector employment tended to grow throughout the crisis. One possible explanation is an upgrading of occupations within the health sector in some Member States, with associate professionals being re-categorised as professionals. The fact that the related occupation of health professionals in human health services was one of the jobs with greatest gains lends some support to this possibility.

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