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
Veterinarians70.0$93,83071,060
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
Pharmacists56.8$126,120309,550
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
Tellers50.9$29,450468,470
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
Cashiers41.6$22,4303,635,550
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
Lawyers23.0$120,910642,750
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
Actuaries5.20$102,88020,760
Computer Network Architects4.7$109,020152,670
Economists1.4$104,34018,650

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 Percentile Percent Able to Work From Home
Bottom 25 9.2%
25-50 20.1%
50-75 37.3%
Top 25 61.5%

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.

To view the full list, visit Visual Capitalist.

Author: Marcus Lu

Republished from Visual Capitalist by permission. 

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