What work do we do? Occupations in Providence

Photo: Jonathan Howard

We get up every morning and go to work. Well, almost half of us do. According to the US Census, about 48% of Providence residents are over age 16 and engaged in work for pay. The federal government defines 867 different kinds of work – and, fortunately, groups them into categories and subcategories. The groups can be puzzling. For instance, artists get smooshed together with sports and media workers. Census data may vary from other sources: the Census shows only 396 “law enforcement workers,” while the Providence Police currently report 423 officers on the roster. But, taken with a few grains of salt, the Census’s 2022 occupational estimates do paint a picture. The full table with percentages of male and female workers appears below.


Here are a few highlights of who does what:

9,990     make us healthy. (health care providers, technicians and support)

8,574    make us smart. (education and libraries)

7,234     feed us. (food preparation and service)

6,399     make things. (production occupations)

5,576     move things and people around. (transportation and material moving)

5,099     people sell things. (sales and related)

3,408     build things. (construction and extraction – any miners in Providence?)

1,138     protect us. (firefighting, fire protection, law enforcement)

882         provide legal services. (legal occupations)

305         grow things – or catch them. And 83% are women. (farming, fishing and forestry)

11,130 tell us what to do. (management)



Jonathan Howard is Co-founder of Cause & Effect, Inc., a consulting company that provides strategic planning facilitation, fund development planning and board strengthening to mission-driven organizations. He is a long- time resident of Providence. His three children all attended Providence Public Schools from kindergarten through high school.