American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Workers

There were an estimated 2.7 million AI/AN workers in the U.S. in 2016, accounting for 1.8 percent of the total workforce. The most common occupations for AI/AN workers are provided in the following Table.

Employment of American Indian/Alaska Natives by Occupational Group, 2016
Occupation Number of Workers
Office and Administrative Support Occupations 344,046
Sales and Related Occupations 262,257
Management Occupations 225,425
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations 220,948
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations 209,733
Production Occupations 182,613
Construction and Extraction Occupations 176,760
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations 158,045
Personal Care and Service Occupations 147,691
Education, Training and Library Occupations 131,077
All Other Occupations 701,570
Total 2,760,165

Workers pose for photo on construction site.  Photo by NIOSH

Workers pose for photo on a construction site. Photo by NIOSH

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC/NIOSH). 2016. Employed Labor Force query system. Morgantown: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Available from: (Accessed January 12, 2018).

Bureau of Labor Statistics. [2016] Current population survey microdata files. Available from: (Accessed January 12, 2018).

AI/AN workers are 42% more likely to be employed in a high-risk occupation (an occupation where the injury and illness rate is more than twice the national average) as compared to non-Hispanic white workers.[1]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 336 AI/AN workers were killed on-the-job during 2007 – 2016 – an average of 34 fatalities each year.[2] Most of those fatalities occurred among male workers (308, 92%). The industries with the most fatalities were construction (78), agriculture/forestry/fishing (49), and transportation and warehousing (33).

Occupational safety and health in tribal communities is an underexplored topic and national data on occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities among AI/AN workers are scarce. There is still a need for additional data with more detail to better understand and address the work-related risks facing AI/AN workers.


[1] Steege A, Baron S, Marsh S, Menendez C, Myers J [2014]. Examining Occupational Health and Safety Disparities Using National Data: A Cause for Continuing Concern. Am J Ind Med 57:527-538

[2] BLS.

Page last reviewed: April 4, 2019, 11:18 am