Everything about farming - equipment, machinery, herd size, technology - seems to have grown except for the number of people doing the work. In a short time span of just five years, from 2007 to 2012, the number of farm operators in the United States dropped 3.1 percent.

Farming once was a popular and prominent career across the country, but times have certainly changed. Even just a few decades ago, 1978 Census Bureau data showed that farming was still the most common occupation in eight states: Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Arkansas.

The transition from rural to urban living continued, but farming remained the top job for eight states in 1996, with Minnesota replacing Arkansas on that list.

Fast forward to 2014. In less than two decades, farming dropped as the number one occupation in six out of the eight states. Today, farming ranks as the most common job in only two states: North and South Dakota.

We all probably realize the number of farmers is declining, but it's quite startling when you can see it with your own eyes. Using this interactive map released by NPR, you can watch how the most common jobs in each state have changed since 1978.

Secretary positions were the most prominent job in almost half of the states in the 70s and 80s. By the 1990s, a decline in secretarial positions coupled with a steep incline in the number of truck driver jobs, elevating that career to the top of the list in 29 states by 1996.

Today, delivery and truck driving remains the most common job in well over half of the states. Why? The movement of goods has been immune to two of the biggest trends impacting jobs: globalization and automation. A worker in a foreign country can't drive a truck across the United States, and trucks can't drive themselves (yet, anyway).

Secretaries and primary school teachers are the top job in several states, and in this age of technology, software developers have become the most common job in four states. Most unique is the state of Hawaii, where the occupation of cook tops the list.

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February 16, 2015
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