Utility Services in the North American Industry Classification includes electricity, natural gas, water and sewerage services. Employment was 554.1 thousand in 2012 down from 1990 when it was 740 thousand. Electricity includes generation, transmission and distribution, but natural gas is just distribution and resale. Water and sewer systems can also include treatment and irrigation. Electricity employment makes up 71.6 percent of utility job totals, about 21 percent in natural gas and just fewer than 8.6 percent for water and sewers.
Jobs in utility services tend to be highly specialized with 149.3 thousand jobs in installation, maintenance and repair occupations. Electrical power line installers and repairers have 61 thousand jobs, the biggest occupation in utility service. Utility companies generally produce the services they sell so production occupations like power plant operator, gas plant operators, water and liquid waste treatment plant operators have 66.8 thousand of jobs in this sector. Office and administrative support jobs have almost 20 percent of jobs including 16.9 thousand meter readers.
The majority of jobs require long term training, but less often bachelor’s degree training, which has 13.7 percent of non-managerial jobs. Civil and electrical engineers have some of the jobs, but most of the college training applies to managerial, finance, or computer occupations. The skilled jobs here pay relatively well. Too bad there are so few of them.
With a 115.3 million service jobs to divvy up, utility services gives us only 554.1 thousand jobs, which is only .4 percent of establishment employment. Utility services are too similar to manufacturing in that output and sales of these services are not declining but utility services employment is declining through productivity increases. America needs jobs but utility employment will be limited help. We have 59.1 million jobs left to go give us service.