What Are the Top U.S. Industries?

BY Business Desk  December 9, 2008 at 11:11 AM EDT

Question/Comment: There’s been a lot of talk recently about saving the financial industry, the auto industry. What are the top U.S. industries, in terms of total dollar value, number of employees, etc? I tried Googling it, but did not use the right words or phrases and came up empty.

Paul Solman: Ah, just what I’ve always longed for: a Google-off. Here’s the latest list I could find, from the U.S. Economic Census, 2002, using the North American Industry Classification System:

 Sales ($1,000)Payroll ($1,000)Employees
Mining182,911,09321,173,895 477,840
Construction1,196,555,587 254,292,1447,193,069
Manufacturing 3,916,136,712576,170,541 14,699,536
Wholesale Trade4,634,755,112 259,653,080 5,878,405
Retail Trade3,056,421,997302,113,581 14,647,675
Transportation & Warehousing382,152,040115,988,7333,650,859
Information891,845,956194,670,163 3,736,061
Finance & Ins.2,803,854,868377,790,1726,578,817
Real Estate335,587,70660,222,5841,948,657
Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services886,801,038 376,090,052 7,243,505
Management107,064,264178,996,060 2,605,292
Health Care & Social Assistance1,207,299495,845,82915,052,255
Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation141,904,10945,169,117 1,848,674
Accommodation & Food Services449,498,718127,554,48310,120,951

Order them any way you wish. My only warning is the date: 2002. “Finance and insurance” may well have since shrunk.