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The Front Line: Visualizing the Occupations with the Highest COVID-19 Risk



For complete list, view the full-sized version of this infographic.

covid-19 occupational risk scores
covid-19 occupational risk score

The Occupations with the Highest COVID-19 Risk

Many individuals have been practicing social distancing by working from home in recent weeks. While this arrangement can be a great way to reduce one’s exposure to COVID-19, it’s a luxury that’s available to just 29% of Americans.

The situation for the remaining 71% is uncertain, to say the least. A significant portion of the population has lost their jobs due to business shutdowns and mandated lockdown orders. Others employed in “essential services” have continued working as usual, but may face a higher risk of potential exposure to the virus.

To that end, today’s infographic leverages data from the Occupational Information Network to determine which occupations face the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Methodology and Results

Our score for each occupation is based on evaluating the data on three physical job attributes covered in the occupational database:

  1. Contact With Others:
    How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others in order to perform it?
  2. Physical Proximity:
    To what extent does this job require the worker to perform tasks in close physical proximity to others?
  3. Exposure to Disease and Infection:
    How often does this job require exposure to hazardous conditions?

We assigned each attribute an equal weight, then aggregated them to arrive at a final COVID-19 Risk Score between 0 and 100, with 100 representing the highest possible risk. Jobs with a risk score below 0.5 were excluded from further analysis.

To narrow down the list, we removed most occupations held by fewer than 20,000 people. From the remaining pool, we selected 100 well-known occupations, and included the average annual income and number of workers associated with each based on BLS data.

OccupationCOVID-19 Risk ScoreAverage Annual IncomeNumber of Employed
Dental Hygienists99.7$74,820215,150
Respiratory Therapy Technicians95.0$60,280129,600
Dental Assistants92.5$38,660341,060
Dentists, General92.1$151,850113,000
Orderlies (Patient Care Assistants)90.2$28,06050,100
Family and General Practitioners90.1$201,100114,130
Registered Nurses86.1$71,7302,951,960
Respiratory Therapists84.2$60,280129,600
Radiologic Technicians84.1$59,520205,590
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses82.1$46,240701,690
Surgical Technologists80.6$47,300110,160
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers80.4$72,51071,130
Physical Therapist Aides80.3$26,24047,260
Physician Assistants80.0$108,610114,710
Internists, General (Internal Medicine) 79.8$194,50037,820
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians79.3$56,85056,560
Physical Therapist Assistants79.3$58,04094,250
Physical Therapists78.6$87,930228,600
Occupational Therapists77.7$84,270126,900
Flight Attendants75.6$56,000118,770
Occupational Therapy Assistants75.0$60,22042,660
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers74.9$27,54089,480
Nursing Assistants72.5$28,5401,450,960
Medical Assistants72.2$33,610673,660
Nurse Anesthetists70.8$167,95043,520
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics70.7$34,320257,210
Psychiatric Technicians69.81$32,87071,360
Psychiatric Aides69.0$29,18056,910
Skincare Specialists68.0$31,29050,740
Bus Drivers, School or Special Client67.3$32,420504,150
Home Health Aides66.3$24,200797,670
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education65.8$55,470131,160
Personal Care Aides64.0$24,0202,211,950
Medical Equipment Preparers63.9$36,24055,610
Municipal Firefighters63.2$49,620321,570
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers62.8$32,450964,400
Pharmacy Technicians62.5$32,700417,860
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists62.1$24,730377,210
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers61.0$63,34043,760
Nurse Practitioners60.9$107,030179,650
Correctional Officers and Jailers60.4$44,330415,000
Social and Human Service Assistants60.3$33,750392,300
Healthcare Social Workers58.1$56,200168,190
Childcare Workers57.9$23,240564,630
Amusement and Recreation Attendants56.0$22,260319,890
Teacher Assistants55.7$26,9701,331,560
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education55.1$29,780424,520
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education53.8$58,2301,410,970
Massage Therapists52.8$41,420105,160
Medical Secretaries52.1$35,760585,410
Police Patrol Officers51.8$61,380661,330
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives51.8$89,030116,660
Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket Takers51.1$22,260133,970
First-Line Supervisors of Personal Service Workers50.2$38,400228,620
Manicurists and Pedicurists49.4$24,330110,170
Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity47.8$42,080174,110
Food Servers, Nonrestaurant47.6$23,290266,190
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education46.6$58,600609,970
Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers45.5$22,270455,700
Waiters and Waitresses43.6$21,7802,582,410
Food Preparation Workers42.7$23,730814,600
Receptionists and Information Clerks42.6$29,1401,043,630
Couriers and Messengers41.0$28,72075,720
Office Clerks, General40.5$32,7302,972,930
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners40.4$23,770924,290
Food Service Managers40.0$54,240219,160
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop39.5$22,330473,860
Retail Salespersons38.7$24,2004,448,120
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education37.3$60,3201,051,570
Real Estate Sales Agents36.9$48,690156,760
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive36.5$36,6302,165,310
Construction Laborers36.2$35,8001,001,470
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs35.2$25,980207,920
Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers33.8$32,810915,310
Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Workers33.5$23,210213,350
Chief Executives33.4$189,600195,530
Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors32.3$37,260118,520
Sales Agents, Securities and Commodities24.7$64,120415,890
Financial Managers, Branch or Department23.8$127,990608,120
Marketing Managers23.7$134,290240,440
Computer Programmers23.43$84,280230,470
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners22.7$26,1102,156,270
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks22.0$40,2401,530,430
Personal Financial Advisors20.2$88,890200,260
Education Teachers, Postsecondary19.6$64,78060,930
Financial Analysts19.3$85,660306,200
Postal Service Mail Carriers16.0$55,210342,410
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists14.4$63,120638,200
Management Analysts14.1$83,610684,470
Graphic Designers12.8$50,370217,810
Web Developers12.5$69,430127,300
Computer Hardware Engineers6.0$114,60060,750
Computer Network Architects4.7$109,020152,670

While some of these findings may be obvious—nurses and paramedics have a higher chance of exposure to the virus than lawyers and web developers, for example—these datasets allow us to assign a more quantitative figure to each occupation’s level of risk.

Recognizing Those On the Front Lines

Through the #LightItBlue campaign, communities are recognizing the brave efforts of healthcare workers as they fight the virus firsthand. However, with fewer than a third of Americans being able to work from home, many others are also working on the front lines, and thus deserve our recognition.

Two of these occupations are bus drivers (678,260 employed) and cashiers (3,635,559 employed), both of which require workers to be in close physical proximity with others. The services these individuals help to provide are essential, and despite the risks, many have been working throughout the entire pandemic.

Workers in food stores are the ones keeping this nation from going into civil unrest. Because if there is no one working in the stores, we are in trouble.

—John T. Niccollai, President, UFCW Local 464A

Data has also shown that working from home is largely reserved for America’s higher earners.

Income PercentilePercent Able to Work From Home
Bottom 259.2%
Top 2561.5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

At a time when many Americans worry about paying their bills, the effects of this inequality can be particularly harsh on those near the bottom of the income spectrum. If unable to work from home, these individuals will likely face increased health risks on top of their existing financial difficulties.

Looking Out For One Another

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone differently, especially in terms of the occupational risks faced day-to-day.

Individuals on the front lines, whether they’re taking care of patients or stocking grocery shelves, are placing themselves at risk to ensure our communities can continue to run smoothly. Meanwhile, those fortunate enough to work from home can help flatten the curve by continuing to practice safe social distancing, even on weekends.

The Full List

For reference, we’ve also provided the full list of nearly 1,000 occupations, including jobs with fewer than 20,000 workers. The average risk score of the following 966 jobs is 30.2.

OccupationCOVID-19 Risk Score
Dental Hygienists99.7
Respiratory Therapy Technicians95
Sports Medicine Physicians94.6
Dental Assistants92.5
Radiation Therapists92.4
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons92.3
Dentists, General92.1
Obstetricians and Gynecologists91.8
Orderlies (Patient Care Assistants)90.2
Acute Care Nurses90.1
Family and General Practitioners90.1
Registered Nurses86.1
Pediatricians, General85.1
Respiratory Therapists84.2
Radiologic Technicians84.1
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses82.1
Critical Care Nurses81.7
Radiologic Technologists81.2
Nurse Midwives81.1
Surgical Technologists80.7
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers80.5
Physical Therapist Aides80.3
Allergists and Immunologists80.3
Physician Assistants80
Internists, General (Internal Medicine)79.9
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians79.3
Physical Therapist Assistants79.3
Physical Therapists78.7
Occupational Therapy Aides78
Occupational Therapists77.8
Surgical Assistants77.7
Flight Attendants75.7
Occupational Therapy Assistants75
Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers75
Nuclear Medicine Technologists74.8
Naturopathic Physicians74.6
Neurodiagnostic Technologists74.5
Nursing Assistants72.5
Medical Assistants72.2
Nurse Anesthetists70.8
Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics70.8
Athletic Trainers70.6
Psychiatric Technicians69.8
Psychiatric Aides69
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians69
Ophthalmic Medical Technologists68.5
Skincare Specialists68.1
Special Education Teachers, Preschool67.4
Bus Drivers, School or Special Client67.3
Anesthesiologist Assistants67.2
Home Health Aides66.4
Veterinary Technologists and Technicians66
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education65.8
Endoscopy Technicians65.8
Patient Representatives65.1
Speech-Language Pathology Assistants64.9
Personal Care Aides64
Medical Equipment Preparers63.9
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists63.7
Municipal Firefighters63.3
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers62.9
Recreational Therapists62.8
Hearing Aid Specialists62.7
Pharmacy Technicians62.5
Ophthalmic Medical Technicians62.3
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists62.2
Clinical Nurse Specialists62
Transportation Security Screeners61.4
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers61
Nurse Practitioners60.9
Immigration and Customs Inspectors60.8
Exercise Physiologists60.7
Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians60.7
Correctional Officers and Jailers60.4
Social and Human Service Assistants60.3
Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs59
Pharmacy Aides58.8
Municipal Fire Fighting and Prevention Supervisors58.3
Healthcare Social Workers58.2
Childcare Workers58
Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School57.2
Orthotists and Prosthetists56.7
Music Therapists56.1
Amusement and Recreation Attendants56
Slot Supervisors55.9
Teacher Assistants55.8
Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program55.7
Special Education Teachers, Middle School55.6
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists55.6
Adapted Physical Education Specialists55.2
Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education55.2
Gaming Dealers55
Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses54.2
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education53.8
Fire Investigators53.8
Massage Therapists52.8
Speech-Language Pathologists52.7
Medical Secretaries52.2
Police Patrol Officers51.9
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives51.9
Transportation Attendants, Except Flight Attendants51.8
Transit and Railroad Police51.6
Morticians, Undertakers, and Funeral Directors51.3
Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket Takers51.2
Opticians, Dispensing50.6
Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners50.5
Gaming Surveillance Officers and Gaming Investigators50.3
Dietetic Technicians50.3
First-Line Supervisors of Personal Service Workers50.2
Animal Control Workers50.1
Manicurists and Pedicurists49.5
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians49.3
Spa Managers48.7
Nuclear Medicine Physicians48.6
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors48.6
Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop48.4
Recreation Workers48
Police Detectives47.9
Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity47.9
Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance47.8
Police Identification and Records Officers47.7
Food Servers, Nonrestaurant47.6
Gaming Supervisors47.2
Stock Clerks, Sales Floor47.2
Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers46.9
Interpreters and Translators46.8
Subway and Streetcar Operators46.7
Middle School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education46.6
Funeral Attendants46.4
Licensing Examiners and Inspectors45.9
Nonfarm Animal Caretakers45.9
Aircraft Cargo Handling Supervisors45.7
Forest Firefighters45.6
Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers45.6
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay45.3
Postal Service Clerks45
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents44.8
Gaming and Sports Book Writers and Runners44.3
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria44
Gaming Cage Workers43.9
Dietitians and Nutritionists43.7
Waiters and Waitresses43.6
License Clerks43.3
Special Education Teachers, Secondary School43.1
Structural Iron and Steel Workers42.9
Food Preparation Workers42.8
Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary42.8
Low Vision Therapists, Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and Vision Rehabilitation Therapists42.7
Receptionists and Information Clerks42.6
First-Line Supervisors of Housekeeping and Janitorial Workers42.6
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners42.4
Statement Clerks42.2
Locker Room, Coatroom, and Dressing Room Attendants41.9
Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks41.8
Gaming Change Persons and Booth Cashiers41.7
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists41.6
Child, Family, and School Social Workers41.6
Switchboard Operators, Including Answering Service41.2
Gaming Managers41.2
Adhesive Bonding Machine Operators and Tenders41.1
Couriers and Messengers41.1
Credit Checkers41
Air Traffic Controllers40.9
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors40.9
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary40.7
Office Clerks, General40.6
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners40.5
Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators40.2
Food Service Managers40.1
Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers40
Interviewers, Except Eligibility and Loan39.9
Community Health Workers39.7
Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop39.6
Clinical Research Coordinators39.5
Quality Control Systems Managers39.4
Roustabouts, Oil and Gas39.4
Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas39.2
Commercial Pilots39.2
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Secondary School39.1
Radio Operators38.9
Retail Salespersons38.7
Ship and Boat Captains38.6
Career/Technical Education Teachers, Middle School38.5
Histotechnologists and Histologic Technicians38.3
New Accounts Clerks38.3
Tailors, Dressmakers, and Custom Sewers38.3
Procurement Clerks38.2
Crossing Guards38.2
Driver/Sales Workers38.1
Fire Inspectors38
Costume Attendants38
Loan Interviewers and Clerks37.7
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary37.6
First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material-Moving Machine and Vehicle Operators37.5
Elevator Installers and Repairers37.4
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors37.3
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education37.3
Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers37.3
Cooks, Restaurant37.3
Tire Repairers and Changers37.2
Brokerage Clerks37.2
Rough Carpenters37.2
Dispatchers, Except Police, Fire, and Ambulance37.1
Chefs and Head Cooks37
Transportation Vehicle, Equipment and Systems Inspectors, Except Aviation37
Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators37
Real Estate Sales Agents36.9
Pile-Driver Operators36.9
Counter and Rental Clerks36.8
Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food36.8
Parking Lot Attendants36.8
Mental Health Counselors36.6
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive36.5
Radio, Cellular, and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers36.5
Manufactured Building and Mobile Home Installers36.5
Postmasters and Mail Superintendents36.3
Construction Laborers36.3
Meat, Poultry, and Fish Cutters and Trimmers36.2
Control and Valve Installers and Repairers, Except Mechanical Door36.1
Broadcast News Analysts36.1
Roof Bolters, Mining35.8
Musicians, Instrumental35.8
Library Assistants, Clerical35.8
Coaches and Scouts35.8
Lifeguards, Ski Patrol, and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers35.4
Cooks, Short Order35.4
First-Line Supervisors of Helpers, Laborers, and Material Movers, Hand35.3
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs35.2
Fish and Game Wardens35.2
Helpers--Extraction Workers35.1
General and Operations Managers35.1
Forest Fire Fighting and Prevention Supervisors35.1
Recreation and Fitness Studies Teachers, Postsecondary34.8
Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators34.8
Maintenance and Repair Workers, General34.7
Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm Products34.6
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers34.6
Marriage and Family Therapists34.5
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes34.5
Self-Enrichment Education Teachers34.4
Funeral Service Managers34.3
Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers, Except Line Installers34.3
Cytogenetic Technologists34.3
Health Educators34.2
Copy Writers34.2
Civil Engineering Technicians34.2
Highway Maintenance Workers34.1
Insurance Appraisers, Auto Damage34
Eligibility Interviewers, Government Programs33.9
Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining33.9
Packers and Packagers, Hand33.9
Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers33.8
Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks33.7
Retail Loss Prevention Specialists33.7
Ship Engineers33.6
Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Workers33.5
First-Line Supervisors of Animal Husbandry and Animal Care Workers33.5
Art Therapists33.5
Demonstrators and Product Promoters33.5
Human Resources Assistants, Except Payroll and Timekeeping33.5
Chief Executives33.4
Motorboat Operators33.2
Instructional Coordinators33.2
Directors- Stage, Motion Pictures, Television, and Radio33.2
Parts Salespersons33.1
Rehabilitation Counselors33.1
Sailors and Marine Oilers32.9
Bill and Account Collectors32.9
Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary32.9
Fiberglass Laminators and Fabricators32.9
Securities and Commodities Traders32.8
Transportation Managers32.7
Tank Car, Truck, and Ship Loaders32.5
Forest and Conservation Workers32.5
Home Appliance Repairers32.5
Sales Agents, Financial Services32.4
Farm Labor Contractors32.3
Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors32.3
Vocational Education Teachers, Postsecondary32.3
Commercial Divers32.2
Fishers and Related Fishing Workers32.1
Loss Prevention Managers32
Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers32
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents31.9
Gem and Diamond Workers31.9
Construction Carpenters31.8
First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers31.8
Government Property Inspectors and Investigators31.7
Food Cooking Machine Operators and Tenders31.7
Refractory Materials Repairers, Except Brickmasons31.7
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers31.6
Mechanical Engineering Technologists31.4
Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School31.3
Program Directors31.3
Signal and Track Switch Repairers31.3
Wind Turbine Service Technicians31.2
Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and Instructors31.2
Technical Directors/Managers31.2
Real Estate Brokers31.2
Fashion Designers31.2
Computer User Support Specialists31.1
Mechanical Engineers31.1
Dental Laboratory Technicians31.1
Helpers--Painters, Paperhangers, Plasterers, and Stucco Masons31.1
Forensic Science Technicians31.1
Baggage Porters and Bellhops31
Preventive Medicine Physicians31
Billing, Cost, and Rate Clerks30.9
Tour Guides and Escorts30.8
Directors, Religious Activities and Education30.8
Solar Energy Installation Managers30.8
Floral Designers30.8
First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers30.8
Order Clerks30.7
Court Clerks30.6
Marking Clerks30.6
Customer Service Representatives30.6
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers30.6
Mine Cutting and Channeling Machine Operators30.6
Sales Managers30.4
Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals30.4
Cargo and Freight Agents30.3
Agricultural Inspectors30.2
Music Directors30.2
Credit Authorizers30.1
Lodging Managers30.1
Pilots, Ship30.1
Sheet Metal Workers30
Mail Clerks and Mail Machine Operators, Except Postal Service29.8
Nuclear Power Reactor Operators29.8
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers29.8
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates29.8
Buyers and Purchasing Agents, Farm Products29.7
Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers29.7
Airfield Operations Specialists29.6
Computer Network Support Specialists29.6
Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators29.5
First-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales Workers29.4
Model Makers, Metal and Plastic29.4
Emergency Management Directors29.4
Clinical Psychologists29.4
Mechanical Engineering Technicians29.4
Medical Appliance Technicians29.2
Floor Layers, Except Carpet, Wood, and Hard Tiles29.1
Social and Community Service Managers29
Freight Forwarders28.9
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers28.9
Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Motion Picture28.9
Neuropsychologists and Clinical Neuropsychologists28.8
Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters28.8
Electric Motor, Power Tool, and Related Repairers28.7
Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers28.7
Molding and Casting Workers28.7
Locksmiths and Safe Repairers28.6
Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas28.5
First-Line Supervisors of Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Workers28.5
Pump Operators, Except Wellhead Pumpers28.4
Computer Operators28.3
Wind Energy Operations Managers28.3
Word Processors and Typists28.2
Fitness and Wellness Coordinators28.1
Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers28
Freight and Cargo Inspectors28
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific Products27.9
Food Batchmakers27.9
Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants27.8
Loan Counselors27.8
Loan Officers27.8
Radio and Television Announcers27.6
Animal Trainers27.6
Residential Advisors27.6
Locomotive Engineers27.5
Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary27.5
Model Makers, Wood27.5
Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists27.5
Advertising Sales Agents27.4
Quality Control Analysts27.3
Engine and Other Machine Assemblers27.3
Credit Counselors27.3
Talent Directors27.2
Automotive and Watercraft Service Attendants27.2
Recycling Coordinators27.1
Chemical Equipment Operators and Tenders26.9
Data Entry Keyers26.9
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers26.9
Human Resources Specialists26.8
Crane and Tower Operators26.8
Nuclear Equipment Operation Technicians26.8
Labor Relations Specialists26.7
Municipal Clerks26.6
Industrial Production Managers26.6
Pipe Fitters and Steamfitters26.5
Rolling Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic26.5
Radio Mechanics26.5
Furnace, Kiln, Oven, Drier, and Kettle Operators and Tenders26.5
Weighers, Measurers, Checkers, and Samplers, Recordkeeping26.5
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters26.4
Home Economics Teachers, Postsecondary26.4
Order Fillers, Wholesale and Retail Sales26.4
Solar Sales Representatives and Assessors26.4
Counseling Psychologists26.3
Gas Compressor and Gas Pumping Station Operators26.3
Heating and Air Conditioning Mechanics and Installers26.2
Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers26.2
First-Line Supervisors of Office and Administrative Support Workers26.2
Paralegals and Legal Assistants26.1
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers, Transportation Equipment26.1
Biological Technicians26
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary26
Continuous Mining Machine Operators26
Range Managers26
Training and Development Managers26
Medical and Health Services Managers25.9
Insulation Workers, Mechanical25.9
Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and Hostlers25.8
Correspondence Clerks25.8
Distance Learning Coordinators25.8
Reporters and Correspondents25.8
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians25.7
Compliance Managers25.7
Production, Planning, and Expediting Clerks25.7
Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators25.6
Paper Goods Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders25.6
Industrial Machinery Mechanics25.6
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand25.5
Slaughterers and Meat Packers25.5
Foundry Mold and Coremakers25.4
Marine Architects25.4
Meter Readers, Utilities25.2
Butchers and Meat Cutters25.2
Audio and Video Equipment Technicians25.2
Outdoor Power Equipment and Other Small Engine Mechanics25.2
Environmental Engineering Technicians25.1
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists25.1
Claims Examiners, Property and Casualty Insurance25
Biofuels Processing Technicians25
Security Managers25
Customs Brokers25
Nursery and Greenhouse Managers24.9
Park Naturalists24.8
Medical Transcriptionists24.8
Shoe and Leather Workers and Repairers24.8
Segmental Pavers24.8
Biofuels Production Managers24.8
Mates- Ship, Boat, and Barge24.7
Sales Agents, Securities and Commodities24.7
Chemical Plant and System Operators24.7
Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators24.7
Biomass Plant Technicians24.6
Network and Computer Systems Administrators24.6
Tree Trimmers and Pruners24.5
Insurance Sales Agents24.5
Power Distributors and Dispatchers24.5
Door-To-Door Sales Workers, News and Street Vendors, and Related Workers24.3
Proofreaders and Copy Markers24.3
Athletes and Sports Competitors24.3
Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials24.2
Mechatronics Engineers24.1
Fence Erectors24
Maintenance Workers, Machinery24
Construction Managers24
Weatherization Installers and Technicians23.9
Patternmakers, Metal and Plastic23.9
Industrial Engineering Technicians23.9
Financial Managers, Branch or Department23.9
Security Guards23.9
Mechanical Door Repairers23.8
Biomass Power Plant Managers23.8
Advertising and Promotions Managers23.8
Film and Video Editors23.8
Travel Agents23.8
Marketing Managers23.8
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary23.8
File Clerks23.7
First-Line Supervisors of Aquacultural Workers23.6
Hydroelectric Plant Technicians23.5
Bicycle Repairers23.5
Timing Device Assemblers and Adjusters23.5
Electro-Mechanical Technicians23.4
Computer Programmers23.4
Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products23.4
Recycling and Reclamation Workers23.4
Anthropology and Archeology Teachers, Postsecondary23.4
Pest Control Workers23.2
Forging Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic23.2
Genetic Counselors23.2
Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary23.2
Textile Winding, Twisting, and Drawing Out Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders23.1
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers23.1
Painters, Construction and Maintenance23
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Teachers, Postsecondary22.9
Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters22.9
Art Directors22.9
Brickmasons and Blockmasons22.9
Chemical Technicians22.9
Training and Development Specialists22.8
Energy Auditors22.7
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists22.7
Agricultural Technicians22.7
Sawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Wood22.7
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners22.7
Power Plant Operators22.6
Public Address System and Other Announcers22.6
Architecture Teachers, Postsecondary22.6
Office Machine Operators, Except Computer22.6
Insurance Claims Clerks22.5
Audio-Visual and Multimedia Collections Specialists22.5
Team Assemblers22.5
Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators22.4
Sales Engineers22.3
Purchasing Managers22.2
Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists22.2
Risk Management Specialists22.2
Public Relations Specialists22.2
Communications Teachers, Postsecondary22.2
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers22.1
Energy Brokers22.1
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks22.1
First-Line Supervisors of Logging Workers22.1
Food Science Technicians22.1
Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators22
Law Teachers, Postsecondary21.9
Recreational Vehicle Service Technicians21.9
Payroll and Timekeeping Clerks21.8
Avionics Technicians21.7
Graduate Teaching Assistants21.7
Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers21.7
Locomotive Firers21.7
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment21.6
Equal Opportunity Representatives and Officers21.5
Education Administrators, Postsecondary21.5
Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators21.5
Motorboat Mechanics and Service Technicians21.4
Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers21.4
Helpers--Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Workers21.4
Textile Bleaching and Dyeing Machine Operators and Tenders21.4
Online Merchants21.4
Extruding and Forming Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Synthetic and Glass Fibers21.3
Hunters and Trappers21.2
Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators21.1
Logistics Managers21.1
Insurance Underwriters21.1
Rail Car Repairers21
Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines20.9
Nuclear Monitoring Technicians20.9
Human Resources Managers20.8
Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters20.8
English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary20.8
Petroleum Engineers20.8
Computer and Information Research Scientists20.8
Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment20.8
Automotive Specialty Technicians20.7
Video Game Designers20.7
Compensation and Benefits Managers20.6
Supply Chain Managers20.6
Forest and Conservation Technicians20.6
Radio Frequency Identification Device Specialists20.6
Chief Sustainability Officers20.5
Private Detectives and Investigators20.5
Administrative Services Managers20.5
Extruding, Forming, Pressing, and Compacting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders20.5
Electronic Home Entertainment Equipment Installers and Repairers20.4
Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders20.4
Telecommunications Engineering Specialists20.4
Industrial Engineers20.4
Computer and Information Systems Managers20.3
Budget Analysts20.3
Aerospace Engineers20.3
Multiple Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic20.3
Personal Financial Advisors20.2
Legal Secretaries20.2
Paving, Surfacing, and Tamping Equipment Operators20.1
Bioinformatics Technicians20
Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers20
Electromechanical Engineering Technologists20
Commercial and Industrial Designers20
Credit Analysts20
Tax Preparers20
Validation Engineers20
Occupational Health and Safety Technicians20
Mathematical Science Teachers, Postsecondary20
Travel Guides20
Industrial Safety and Health Engineers20
Mixing and Blending Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders19.9
Library Technicians19.9
Informatics Nurse Specialists19.8
Computer Systems Analysts19.8
Cabinetmakers and Bench Carpenters19.7
Cost Estimators19.7
Education Teachers, Postsecondary19.6
Geothermal Technicians19.6
Farm and Home Management Advisors19.6
Solar Thermal Installers and Technicians19.6
Physics Teachers, Postsecondary19.4
Multimedia Artists and Animators19.4
Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks19.4
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products19.4
Medical Equipment Repairers19.4
Sound Engineering Technicians19.4
Financial Analysts19.3
Electromechanical Equipment Assemblers19.3
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians19.3
Food Scientists and Technologists19.2
Information Technology Project Managers19
Hydroelectric Production Managers19
Cutters and Trimmers, Hand18.9
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists18.9
Coating, Painting, and Spraying Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders18.9
Geophysical Data Technicians18.9
Library Science Teachers, Postsecondary18.9
Treasurers and Controllers18.9
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health18.8
Set and Exhibit Designers18.8
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists18.8
Logging Equipment Operators18.8
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers18.8
Court Reporters18.8
Mine Shuttle Car Operators18.7
Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary18.7
Fabric Menders, Except Garment18.6
Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers18.5
Architects, Except Landscape and Naval18.5
Agricultural Equipment Operators18.5
Insurance Policy Processing Clerks18.4
Musical Instrument Repairers and Tuners18.4
Hazardous Materials Removal Workers18.3
Grinding and Polishing Workers, Hand18.3
Log Graders and Scalers18.3
Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary18.2
Logistics Engineers18.2
Geothermal Production Managers18.2
Cooks, Fast Food18.2
Heat Treating Equipment Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic18.1
Cooling and Freezing Equipment Operators and Tenders18.1
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians18.1
Storage and Distribution Managers18.1
Aviation Inspectors18.1
Hoist and Winch Operators18
Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas18
Electronic Equipment Installers and Repairers, Motor Vehicles18
Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary17.9
Landscape Architects17.9
Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators17.9
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists17.8
Layout Workers, Metal and Plastic17.8
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians17.8
Plasterers and Stucco Masons17.8
Carpet Installers17.7
Printing Press Operators17.7
Soil and Water Conservationists17.5
Water/Wastewater Engineers17.3
Crushing, Grinding, and Polishing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders17.1
Painting, Coating, and Decorating Workers17.1
Broadcast Technicians17.1
Investment Fund Managers17.1
Cleaning, Washing, and Metal Pickling Equipment Operators and Tenders17
Urban and Regional Planners17
Electronics Engineering Technicians17
Lathe and Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic17
Motorcycle Mechanics17
Automotive Master Mechanics16.9
Aquacultural Managers16.7
Logistics Analysts16.7
Clinical Data Managers16.7
Manufacturing Engineers16.7
City and Regional Planning Aides16.7
Metal-Refining Furnace Operators and Tenders16.6
Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary16.5
Furniture Finishers16.4
Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters16.4
Parking Enforcement Workers16.2
Cutting and Slicing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders16.1
Industrial Engineering Technologists16.1
Electrical Drafters16.1
Postal Service Mail Carriers16.1
Automotive Engineering Technicians16.1
Regulatory Affairs Managers16.1
Animal Scientists16.1
Precision Agriculture Technicians16
Coin, Vending, and Amusement Machine Servicers and Repairers16
Woodworking Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Except Sawing16
Electrical Engineering Technologists16
Purchasing Agents, Except Wholesale, Retail, and Farm Products15.9
Photonics Engineers15.9
Geography Teachers, Postsecondary15.9
Interior Designers15.9
Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic15.9
Electrical Engineers15.8
Technical Writers15.8
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers15.7
Helpers--Production Workers15.7
Information Security Analysts15.6
Intelligence Analysts15.6
Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic15.6
Insulation Workers, Floor, Ceiling, and Wall15.6
Plating and Coating Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic15.6
Molding, Coremaking, and Casting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic15.5
Welders, Cutters, and Welder Fitters15.5
Sewing Machine Operators15.5
Pressers, Textile, Garment, and Related Materials15.4
Transportation Planners15.3
Construction and Building Inspectors15.3
Electronics Engineers, Except Computer15.3
Automotive Body and Related Repairers15.2
Statistical Assistants15.2
Extruding and Drawing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic15.2
Business Continuity Planners15.2
Energy Engineers15.2
Robotics Technicians15.2
Transportation Engineers15.2
Machine Feeders and Offbearers15.1
Terrazzo Workers and Finishers15.1
Grinding, Lapping, Polishing, and Buffing Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic15.1
Economics Teachers, Postsecondary15
Regulatory Affairs Specialists15
Non-Destructive Testing Specialists15
Software Developers, Systems Software15
Bridge and Lock Tenders14.9
Tile and Marble Setters14.9
Forestry and Conservation Science Teachers, Postsecondary14.9
Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary14.9
School Psychologists14.8
Software Quality Assurance Engineers and Testers14.8
Environmental Engineers14.8
Farm Equipment Mechanics and Service Technicians14.8
Biofuels/Biodiesel Technology and Product Development Managers14.7
Software Developers, Applications14.7
Brownfield Redevelopment Specialists and Site Managers14.7
Document Management Specialists14.7
Biochemical Engineers14.7
Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders14.6
Wellhead Pumpers14.6
Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers14.6
History Teachers, Postsecondary14.6
Traffic Technicians14.6
Product Safety Engineers14.6
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists14.5
Biomedical Engineers14.5
Database Administrators14.5
Cutting, Punching, and Press Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic14.4
Patternmakers, Wood14.4
Solar Photovoltaic Installers14.3
Dredge Operators14.3
Museum Technicians and Conservators14.2
Security Management Specialists14.2
Animal Breeders14.1
Management Analysts14.1
Solar Energy Systems Engineers14.1
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists14
Print Binding and Finishing Workers13.9
Foreign Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary13.9
Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary13.7
Natural Sciences Managers13.7
Computer, Automated Teller, and Office Machine Repairers13.7
Chemical Engineers13.6
Electronics Engineering Technologists13.5
Electrical Engineering Technicians13.5
Semiconductor Processors13.5
Conveyor Operators and Tenders13.5
Bioinformatics Scientists13.4
Civil Engineers13.3
Agricultural Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary13.3
Tool Grinders, Filers, and Sharpeners13.3
Etchers and Engravers13.3
Remote Sensing Technicians13.3
Sustainability Specialists13.1
Climate Change Analysts13.1
Fire-Prevention and Protection Engineers13.1
Gas Plant Operators13.1
Automotive Engineers13
Manufacturing Production Technicians13
Mining and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers13
Pourers and Casters, Metal12.9
Tire Builders12.9
Nanotechnology Engineering Technicians12.9
Graphic Designers12.8
Drilling and Boring Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic12.8
Civil Drafters12.7
Environmental Restoration Planners12.7
Food and Tobacco Roasting, Baking, and Drying Machine Operators and Tenders12.6
Glass Blowers, Molders, Benders, and Finishers12.6
Fraud Examiners, Investigators and Analysts12.5
Web Developers12.5
Database Architects12.5
Business Intelligence Analysts12.5
Human Factors Engineers and Ergonomists12.5
Survey Researchers12.5
Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers12.4
Electronic Drafters12.2
Robotics Engineers12.2
Prepress Technicians and Workers12.2
Loading Machine Operators, Underground Mining12.2
Nanotechnology Engineering Technologists12.1
Motion Picture Projectionists12.1
Stock Clerks- Stockroom, Warehouse, or Storage Yard12.1
Financial Examiners12
Solderers and Brazers11.9
Architectural and Engineering Managers11.9
Wind Energy Project Managers11.6
Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders11.6
Desktop Publishers11.3
Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, and Applicators, Vegetation11.2
Coil Winders, Tapers, and Finishers11.2
Political Science Teachers, Postsecondary11.1
Cooks, Private Household11.1
Materials Engineers11.1
Farm and Ranch Managers11.1
Rock Splitters, Quarry11
Architectural Drafters11
Geographic Information Systems Technicians10.9
Stone Cutters and Carvers, Manufacturing10.9
Social Science Research Assistants10.7
Business Teachers, Postsecondary10.6
First-Line Supervisors of Agricultural Crop and Horticultural Workers10.6
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health10.6
Camera and Photographic Equipment Repairers10.6
Nursery Workers10.5
Water Resource Specialists10.3
Computer Systems Engineers/Architects10.3
Agricultural Engineers10.3
Mechanical Drafters10.2
Instructional Designers and Technologists10.1
Wind Energy Engineers10.1
Appraisers, Real Estate10
Web Administrators10
Geodetic Surveyors10
Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop9.9
Nuclear Engineers9.9
Fuel Cell Engineers9.7
Nanosystems Engineers9.7
Surveying Technicians9.7
Watch Repairers9.7
Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators9.6
Milling and Planing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic9.3
Shoe Machine Operators and Tenders9.3
Manufacturing Engineering Technologists9.1
Political Scientists8.9
Floor Sanders and Finishers8.8
Search Marketing Strategists8.7
Mapping Technicians8.7
Precious Metal Workers8.4
Materials Scientists8.3
Judicial Law Clerks8.2
Craft Artists8
Potters, Manufacturing8
Environmental Compliance Inspectors7.9
Welding, Soldering, and Brazing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders7.7
Textile Cutting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders7.6
Sewers, Hand7.5
Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers7.4
Painters, Transportation Equipment7.3
Geospatial Information Scientists and Technologists7.2
Marine Engineers7.2
Tool and Die Makers7.2
Industrial Ecologists6.9
Microsystems Engineers6.1
Music Composers and Arrangers6.1
Computer Hardware Engineers6.1
Biochemists and Biophysicists6.1
Remote Sensing Scientists and Technologists6
Environmental Economists6
Molecular and Cellular Biologists5.8
Atmospheric and Space Scientists5
Soil and Plant Scientists4.9
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers4.9
Computer Network Architects4.8
Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers4.2
Operations Research Analysts3.5
Geological Sample Test Technicians3.3
Financial Quantitative Analysts2.9
Data Warehousing Specialists2.9
Photonics Technicians2.7

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The Population Race: A 300-Year Look at China vs. India

When will India’s population overtake China’s? Take a look at the trends behind this impending demographic milestone.



The Population Race: A 300-Year Look at China vs. India

One of the biggest demographic milestones that our world faces is less than a decade away.

Today, China and India boast the largest populations, outpacing all others by a mile. The total populations of these two nations have been climbing for years, but India is moving at a faster clip. The big question is: When will India overtake China in population?

This interactive chart by Our World in Data pulls past and projected population data from the United Nations, comparing the 300-year trajectory of China vs. India to answer this burning question.

China vs. India Population (1800-2100p)

In 1800, India’s population was at a modest 169 million. In contrast, the Chinese population was nearly double that with 322 million at the turn of the 19th century.

It wasn’t until 1950 that the total populations of both countries started shooting up exponentially, and here’s where it starts to get interesting. China reached the 1 billion milestone in 1980, while India took a little longer to get there in 1997.

And now, India is on target to overtake China’s total population in 2026, when both countries are expected to be at the 1.46 billion people mark.

Country18002026p2100pAbsolute change (1800-2100)Relative change
🇨🇳 China321.68M1.46B1.06B+743.3M231%
🇮🇳 India168.57M1.46B1.45B+1.28B758%

*Note: Absolute change numbers may not be exact due to rounding.

Although the populations of both countries will begin contracting in the mid-21st century, India is expected to stay atop the global population leaderboard even by more moderate estimates.

China vs. India Demographics

While it appears that population growth in India is effectively mirroring that of China, there’s more to examine under the surface.

What demographic trends lie behind the eventual contraction later this century? Let’s look at the two population pyramids to find out.

In China, growth has been underscored by a strict “one-child” policy, implemented in 1979. Even with the updated “two-child” policy in 2016, there’s no coming back from this decision—China is now contending with a rapidly aging population. It’s anticipated that over one-third of Chinese citizens will be 65 years old and above by 2050.

Meanwhile in neighboring India, the workforce is just beginning to take off—65% of its population is currently aged 35 years and below. High rates of digital adoption are further compounding economic growth in the country, especially as the world becomes increasingly reliant on telecom and IT services.

China vs. India Economy

Another question this dramatic change begs is: at these rates of population change, can India’s GDP growth also surpass China’s in the next several decades?

The short answer is likely a no, although both countries will still see immense GDP gains during this time. According to PwC, six of the seven largest economies in the world by 2050 will be today’s emerging markets—led by China and India in that order.

CountryGDP (PPP) 2016GDP (PPP) 2050Share of global
GDP (2050)
🇨🇳 China$21.3T$58.5T20%+2% (p.p.)
🇮🇳 India$8.7T$44.1T15%+8% (p.p.)
🇺🇸 U.S.$18.6T$34.1T12%-4% (p.p.)

While India isn’t likely to be the “next” China in terms of global GDP, it’s certainly giving it a fair fight as a potential rising superpower—and it all stems from the combined might of its growing population.

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These 6 Powerful Signals Reveal the Future Direction of Financial Markets

What forces will drive the future of financial markets? We reveal 15 charts from six chapters of our new book to show where the economy is heading.



Powerful signals reveal the future direction of financial markets

Every day, the Information Age bombards us with massive amounts of data.

Experts now estimate that there are 40 times more bytes of data in existence than there are stars in the whole observable universe.

And like the universe, our datasphere is also rapidly expanding—and every few years, there is actually more new data created than in all prior years of human history combined.

Searching for Signals

On a practical level, this dense wall of impenetrable data creates a multitude of challenges for investors and decision makers alike:

  • It’s mentally taxing to process all the available information out there
  • Too much data can lead to “analysis paralysis”—an inability to make decisions
  • Misinformation and media slant add another layer for our brains to process
  • Our personal biases get reinforced by news algorithms and filter bubbles
  • Data sources—even quality ones—can sometimes conflict with one another

As a result, it’s clear that people don’t want more data—they want more understanding. And for this reason, our team at Visual Capitalist has spent most of 2020 sifting through the noise to find the underlying trends that will transform society and markets over the coming years.

The end result of this effort is our new hardcover book “SIGNALS: Charting the New Direction of the Global Economy” (hardcover, ebook) which beautifully illustrates 27 clear signals in fields ranging from investing to geopolitics.

The 6 Signals Shaping the Future of Finance

What clear and simple trends will shape the future of markets?

Below, we show you a small selection of the hundreds of charts found in the book with a focus on global finance and investing:

#1: 700 Years of Falling Interest Rates

The first signal we’ll showcase here is from an incredible dataset from the Bank of England, which reconstructs global real interest rates going back all the way to the 14th century.

Falling real interest rates over 700 years

Some of the first data points in this series represent well-documented municipal debt issued in early Italian banking centers like Genoa, Florence, or Venice, during the beginning stages of the Italian Renaissance.

The early data sets of loans to noblemen, merchants, and kingdoms eventually merge with more contemporary data from central banks, and over the centuries it’s clear that falling interest rates are not a new phenomenon. In fact, on average, real rates have decreased by 1.6 basis points (0.016%) per year since the 14th century.

This same spectacle can also be seen in more modern time stretches:

Contemporary interest rates by country

And as the world reels from the COVID-19 crisis, governments are taking advantage of record-low rates to issue more debt and stimulate the economy.

This brings us to our next signal.

#2: Global Debt: To $258 Trillion and Beyond

The ongoing pandemic certainly made analysis trickier for some signals, but easier for others.

The accumulation of global debt falls into the latter category: as of Q1 2020, global debt sits at a record $258 trillion or 331% of world GDP, and it’s projected to rise sharply as a result of fiscal stimulus, falling tax revenues, and increasing budget deficits.

Rising Global Debt

The above chart takes into consideration consumer, corporate, and government debt—but let’s just zoom in on government debt for a moment.

The below data, which is from early 2020, shows government debt ballooning between 2007 and early 2020 as a percentage of GDP.

Ballooning government debt

This chart does not include intragovernmental debt or new debt taken on after the start of the pandemic. Despite this, the percentage increase in debt held by some of these governments is in the triple digits over a period of only 13 years, including the 233% increase in the United States.

But it’s not just governments going on a borrowing spree. The following chart shows consumer debt over a recent four-year span, sorted by generation:

Average household debt by generation

While Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are successfully winding down some of their debt, younger generations are just getting aboard the debt train.

Between 2015-2019, Millennials added 58% to household debt, while Gen Xers find themselves (in the middle of their mortgage-paying years) as the most indebted generation with $135,841 of debt per household.

#3: Blue Chips and the Circle of Life

There was a time when it seemed absolutely unfathomable that large, entrenched companies could see their corporate advantages slide away.

But as the recent collapses of Blockbuster, Lehman Brothers, Kodak, or various retailers have taught us, there are no longer any guarantees around corporate longevity.

Average company lifespan on S&P 500

In 1964, the average tenure of a company on the S&P 500 was 33 years, but this is projected to fall to an average of just 12 years by the year 2027 according to consulting firm Innosight.

At this churn rate, it’s expected that 50% of the S&P 500 could turnover between 2018-2027.

Churn of S&P 500 companies

For established companies, this is a sign of the times. Between the rapid acceleration in the speed of innovation and continuously falling barriers to market entry, the traditional corporate world finds itself playing defense.

For investors and startups, this is an interesting prospect to consider, as disruption now appears to be the status quo. Could the next big company to dominate global markets be found in someone’s garage in India today?

If you like this post, find hundreds of charts
like this in our new book “Signals”:

Signals: Book

#4: ESG is the New Status Quo

The investment universe has reached an interesting tipping point.

Historically, performance was all the mattered to most investors—but going forward, considering ESG criteria (environment, social, and governance) is expected to become a default component of investment strategy as well.

Esg assets as percentage of total

By the year 2030, it’s expected that a whopping 95% of all assets will incorporate ESG factors.

While this still seems far away, it’s clear that change is already happening in the investment sphere. As you can see in the following graphic, the percentage of ESG assets has already been rising by trillions of dollars per year globally:

Sustainable investing assets esg

If you think this is a powerful trend now, wait until Millennials and Gen Z investors sink in their teeth. Both generations show a higher interest in sustainable investing, and both are already more likely to incorporate ESG factors into existing portfolios.

Projected aggregate income by generation

Companies are getting in front of the ESG investing trend, as well.

In 2011, just 20% of companies on the S&P 500 provided sustainability reports to investors. In 2019, that percentage rose to 90%—and with the world’s biggest asset managers already on board with ESG, there’s pressure for that to hit 100% in the coming years.

#5: Stock Market Concentration

In the last 40 years, the U.S. market has never been so concentrated as it is now.

Big tech five stocks as a percentage of S&P 500

The top five stocks in the S&P 500 have historically made up less than 15% of the market capitalization of the index, but this year the percentage has skyrocketed to 23%.

Not surprisingly, it’s the same companies—led by Apple and Microsoft—that propelled market performance the previous year.

Tech stocks by percentage of 2019 stock market return

Looking back at the top five companies in the S&P 500 over time helps reveal an important component of this signal, which is that it’s only a recent phenomenon for tech stocks to dominate the market so heavily.

Tech stocks each year

#6: Central Banks: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Since the financial crisis, central banks have found themselves to be in a tricky situation.

As interest rates close in on the zero bound, their usual toolkit of conventional policy options has dried up. Traditionally, lowering rates has encouraged borrowing and spending to prop up the economy, but once rates get ultra-low this effect disappears or even reverses.

Treasury yields vs. household spending

The pandemic has forced the hand of central banks to act in less conventional ways.

Quantitative easing (QE)—first used extensively by the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank after the financial crisis—has now become the go-to tool for central banks. By buying long-term securities on the open market, the goal is to increase money supply and encourage lending and investment.

In Japan, where QE has been a mainstay since the late-1990s, the Bank of Japan now owns 80% of ETF assets and roughly 8% of the domestic equity market.

Central bank assets rising

As banks “print money” to buy more assets, their balance sheets rise concurrently. This year, the Fed has already added over $3.5 trillion to the U.S. money supply (M2) as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and there’s still likely much more to be done.

Regardless of how the monetary policy experiment turns out, it’s clear that this and many of the other aforementioned signals will be key drivers for the future of markets and investing.

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