Top 13 Largest US Industries by GDP Contribution (Plus Jobs)

Updated February 16, 2023

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In a medical office, a medical professional is seen smiling as they wrap a patient's hand with a bandage.

Many professionals monitor economic changes to understand which industries are thriving. Growing industries that contribute heavily to the economy could offer job security and high earning potential for skilled professionals with relevant skills. Learning what the largest industries in the U.S. are may help you decide which field to enter.

In this article, we explain why it's beneficial to know which industries are the most prosperous and discuss 13 of the largest U.S. industries based on their contributions to the national gross domestic product (GDP).

Related: 14 Recession-Proof Industries Job Seekers Should Know

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Why is it important to know the largest US industries?

Knowing which industries are leading the economy could help you determine your career goals. Many people prioritize job security and want to enter a growing field in hopes of increasing their chances of finding a job. Participating in a large industry may also help you gain exposure to new opportunities and responsibilities, as growing industries may experiment with new technology and pursue exciting projects. 

The GDP is a metric that measures the market value of all the goods and services produced in the country. This figure helps economists understand the state of the national economy. Understanding how different industries affect the GDP could reveal whether or not these industries are thriving. If you're interested in pursuing an in-demand career, you may want to consider working in one of the United States' major industries.

Related: What Jobs Are Always in High Demand?

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13 largest US industries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, these are the top 13 largest U.S. industries based on their contributions to the GDP:

1. Real estate rental and leasing

The real estate rental and leasing industry helps property owners locate businesses, individuals or families to occupy their commercial or residential properties through contracts like leases. Real estate professionals who oversee and assist with property sales may also be considered a part of this field.

Working in this field typically requires an understanding of financial concepts like lending, insurance and appraisal as well as strong interpersonal skills, as real estate rental and leasing professionals typically do business with a variety of individuals. Jobs in this industry might include:

  • Real estate agent

  • Property manager

  • Real estate appraiser

  • Leasing agent

  • Rental clerk

  • Real estate broker

Related: 16 Real Estate Jobs With Top Salaries

2. Utilities

The utilities industry includes all professionals who help deliver essential utilities like water, sewage, power, gas and steam services to local buildings. These professionals may design systems, install equipment, determine usage, prepare bills or perform repairs.

Utilities careers may involve manual labor, but others may focus on design and testing. These individuals may also ensure that all systems are compliant with local regulations. Problem-solving abilities and analytical skills may help these professionals meet the needs of their customers. Careers in the utility industry include:

  • Electrical engineer

  • Meter reader

  • Electrical power-line installers

  • Plant operator

  • Water treatment specialist

  • Sewer system technician

Read more: 20 Jobs in the Utilities Industry (With Salaries)

3. State and local government

The state and local government is a public sector field that oversees a wide range of public services. Professionals in state and local government may create local policies or manage an area like education, public health, parks and recreation or transportation and infrastructure for their state, county, town or city.

Skills may vary depending on the job function, but these individuals might use data analysis, written and verbal communication and strong judgment to fulfill their duties. Careers in state and local government could include:

  • Mayor

  • Councilperson

  • Public works manager

  • City attorney

  • Clerk

  • City engineer

Related: 16 Jobs Working for Local, State or Federal Government

4. Information

The information industry is a broad field that encompasses a variety of technology and communications careers. Information professionals might work in software, telecommunications, broadcasting, data management or publishing.

If you're interested in developing new technology, delivering messages to the public or processing and storing complex data, a career in the information industry could be suitable for you. Here are some jobs you could consider pursuing in this industry:

  • Telecommunications operator

  • Cable installer

  • Customer service representative

  • Broadcast engineer

  • Software developer

  • Journalist

Related: 11 Careers in Telecommunications

5. Administrative and waste management services

Professionals in the administrative and waste management services industry perform a wide array of functions to help businesses maintain their facilities and daily operations. Subfields within this industry include office administration, security and maintenance.

Detail-oriented, organized individuals who enjoy repetitive tasks might excel in this industry, though job duties can differ. Here are some of the careers you might find in the administrative and waste management services industry:

  • Administrative assistant

  • Receptionist

  • Maintenance coordinator

  • Cleaner

  • Security officer

  • Office assistant

Related: 17 Types of Office Administration Jobs You Can Pursue

6. Health care and social assistance

The health care and social assistance industry helps individuals prevent and recover from medical and mental health conditions and improve their overall quality of life. This industry includes both medical professionals and social workers, and most professionals in this industry are highly trained to deliver expert care.

Interpersonal skills and a deep understanding of science, biology and anatomy might be beneficial in this field. Below are some jobs you might find in this industry:

  • Clinical social worker

  • Home health aide

  • Registered nurse

  • Psychologist

  • Physician

  • Addiction counselor 

Related: 20 Entry-Level Jobs in Health Care (With Salaries)

7. Professional, scientific and technical services

This vast industry includes skilled professionals who perform specialized business, science or technology services for clients. The industry includes fields like accounting, legal services, consulting, design and research.

A wide array of skills can be beneficial in this industry as these professionals provide distinct professional services, but most professionals in this industry are trained specialists, often with formal training in their area. Careers in the professional, scientific and technical services industry include:

  • Bookkeeper

  • Researcher

  • Consultant

  • General counsel

  • Advertising manager

  • Information technology (IT) support technician

Related: What Are Professional Services? (Definition and Examples)

8. Educational services

Professionals in the educational services industry work for public and private institutions that provide education, training and credentials to students of various ages and backgrounds. These individuals may teach in person in a classroom, but they may also provide virtual instruction through online courses, webinars, distance learning programs or television programming.

Professionals in this field may benefit from a deep understanding of their subject matter, organization and strong communication skills. Here are some jobs in the educational services industry:

  • Teacher

  • Professor

  • Principal

  • Instructional designer

  • Tutor

  • Corporate trainer

Related: 40 of the Best Alternative Jobs for Former Teachers

9. Management of companies and enterprises

Management companies and enterprises is an industry focused on the development, growth and operational optimization of businesses. Upper management professionals and stakeholders who have a financial interest in the company may be included in this industry.

Business acumen, an understanding of financial data and expert decision-making skills might help you succeed in a business management career. Here are some jobs in the management of companies and enterprises include:

  • Operations manager

  • Auditor

  • Chief executive officer (CEO)

  • Financial manager

  • Managing director

  • Executive vice president (EVP)

Related: 12 Jobs You Can Get With a Business Management Degree

10. Durable goods and manufacturing

Durable goods and manufacturing professionals build and sell a variety of non-perishable items like appliances, medical equipment, sporting equipment, cars, tools and jewelry. These professionals may work in factories creating and testing products while others may work in offices or stores selling these goods to consumers.

Attention to detail and accuracy may help these professionals produce high-quality items, meet company standards and notice defects. Here are some of the careers you could pursue in the durable goods and manufacturing industry:

  • Machine operator

  • Continuous improvement manager

  • Welder

  • Sales representative

  • Quality control inspector

  • Mechanical engineer

Related: What Are Consumer Goods? Definitions, Types and Examples

11. Arts, entertainment and recreation

The arts, entertainment and recreation industry includes professionals who create, execute and distribute programming for public viewing like movies, theater performances, concerts, sports games and television programs. They may also operate public facilities like museums, amusement parks, arcades or outdoor recreation parks.

Essential skills can vary depending on the job titles these professionals hold, but if you're creative, energetic and organized, you may enjoy working in arts, entertainment and recreation. Here are some jobs you could pursue in this industry:

  • Actor

  • Tour guide

  • Musician

  • Museum curator

  • Arts administrator

  • Athlete

Related: How To Work in the Entertainment Industry: Your Guide To Starting a Career

12. Other services (except government)

The remainder of non-government services outside of professional, scientific and technical services careers comprises this industry. This subset of the services industry spans a wide variety of disciplines, as individuals in this industry may provide clients with specialized private services like pet care, laundry, personal care and equipment maintenance.

To work in this field, it might be best to develop an in-demand skill that you can provide to others. Here are some examples of careers in this industry:

  • Dry cleaner

  • Dog groomer

  • Mortician

  • Valet attendant

  • Mechanic

  • Hairstylist

Related: What Is a Service Industry? Plus 26 Examples

13. Construction

This sector employs professionals who engineer and build buildings and civic projects. These skilled individuals may evaluate the land to ensure it's ready for construction, prepare materials and tools for building and work in teams to build structures according to design specifications.

Physical stamina, dexterity and an understanding of physics can be beneficial in construction careers. Here are some jobs you could pursue in construction:

  • Construction worker

  • Surveyor

  • Carpenter

  • Roofer

  • Cost estimator

  • Construction manager

Related: What Are the Different Types of Construction Jobs?

Please note that the company mentioned in this article is not affiliated with Indeed.

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