The primary and secondary sectors of an economy refer to the way industry uses resources to generate income. In the primary sector, natural resources are harvested directly from the earth. This sector would contain everything from farmers to coal miners to lumberjacks. The secondary sector uses the materials from the primary sector, along with wholly man-made materials, to produce finished products; this sector contains most manufacturing and construction businesses. In addition to these sectors, there are economic sectors that deal with everything from the service industry to stay-at-home parents.
Economists often divide a country’s economy into sectors that each contain a specific grouping of jobs. The primary and secondary sectors are generally the most well-known, as they are typically indicators of the nation’s overall economic health. The sector’s classification is based on their reliance on natural resources to exist. The first two either require natural resources or directly use natural resources.
In most countries, these sectors make up the largest portion of the economy. They generate the most income and contribute the most to the economic stability of the country. Oddly enough, in many developed countries, the largest population works in the tertiary sector, the service industry. This section contains the businesses that provide benefits to other people, but do not directly create a product; this can be anything from a banker to a gas station attendant. This group doesn’t use natural resources at all, but may work in an industry that needs natural resources to continue.
These three sectors make up the common viewpoint of the economic system. The primary and secondary sectors are the processors and creators, while the tertiary sector interacts. Some newer economic models also contain a quaternary and quinary sector. These sectors bring in portions of the population that do not have a direct economic impact, but help move the economy forward.
The quaternary sector contains the industries that don’t generate products, may not generate income and don’t provide a service. These industries are often administrative, governmental or research-based. While these industries may be intermixed with industries from other sectors, they maintain a separate identity. The quinary sector contains people who are outside of established industry, but still use the economy. These people are without jobs, but have money, either because they are retired, rich or have a spouse who works.