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Making informed career decisions requires reliable information about opportunities in the future. Opportunities result from the relationships between the population, labor force, and the demand for goods and services.
Population ultimately limits the size of the labor force—individuals working or looking for work—which constrains how much can be produced. Demand for various goods and services determines employment in the industries providing them. Occupational employment opportunities, in turn, result from demand for skills needed within specific industries. Opportunities for medical assistants and other health care occupations, for example, have surged in response to rapid growth in demand for health services.
Examining the past and projecting changes in these relationships is the foundation of the Occupational Outlook Program. This chapter presents highlights of Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of the labor force and occupational and industry employment that can help guide your career plans.
Population trends affect employment opportunities in a number of ways. Changes in population influence the demand for goods and services. For example, a growing and aging population has increased the demand for health services. Equally important, population changes produce corresponding changes in the size and demographic composition of the labor force.
The U.S. population is expected to increase by 24 million over the 2002-12 period, at a slower rate of growth than during both the 1992-2002 and 1982-92 periods (Chart 1). Continued growth will mean more consumers of goods and services, spurring demand for workers in a wide range of occupations and industries. The effects of population growth on various occupations will differ. The differences are partially accounted for by the age distribution of the future population.
The youth population, aged 16 to 24, will grow 7 percent over the 2002-12 period. As the baby boomers continue to age, the group aged 55 to 64 will increase by 43.6 percent or 11.5 million persons, more than any other group. Those aged 35 to 44 will decrease in size, reflecting the birth dearth following the baby boom generation.
Minorities and immigrants will constitute a larger share of the U.S. population in 2012. The number of Hispanics is projected to continue to grow much faster than those of all other racial and ethnic groups.
Population is the single most important factor in determining the size and composition of the labor force—that is, people who are either working or looking for work. The civilian labor force is projected to increase by 17.4 million, or 12 percent, to 162.3 million over the 2002-12 period.
The U.S. workforce will become more diverse by 2012. White, non-Hispanic persons will continue to make up a decreasing share of the labor force, falling from 71.3 percent in 2002 to 65.5 percent in 2012 (Chart 2). However, despite relatively slow growth, white, non-Hispanics will remain the largest group in the labor force in 2012. Hispanics are projected to account for an increasing share of the labor force by 2012, growing from 12.4 to 14.7 percent. By 2012, Hispanics will constitute a larger proportion of the labor force than will blacks, whose share will grow from 11.4 percent to 12.2 percent. Asians will continue to be the fastest growing of the four labor force groups.
The numbers of men and women in the labor force will grow, but the number of women will grow at a faster rate than the number of men. The male labor force is projected to grow by 10 percent from 2002 to 2012, compared with 14.3 percent for women. As a result, men’s share of the labor force is expected to decrease from 53.5 to 52.5 percent, while women’s share is expected to increase from 46.5 to 47.5 percent.
The youth labor force, aged 16 to 24, is expected to slightly decrease its share of the labor force to 15 percent by 2012. The primary working age group, between 25 and 54 years old, is projected to decline from 70.2 percent of the labor force in 2002 to 65.9 percent by 2012. Workers 55 and older, on the other hand, are projected to increase from 14.3 percent to 19.1 percent of the labor force between 2002 and 2012, due to the aging of the baby-boom generation (Chart 3).
Total employment is expected to increase from 144 million in 2002 to 165 million in 2012, or by 14.8 percent. The 21 million jobs that will be added by 2012 will not be evenly distributed across major industrial and occupational groups. Changes in consumer demand, technology, and many other factors will contribute to the continually changing employment structure in the U.S. economy.
The following two sections examine projected employment change from both industrial and occupational perspectives. The industrial profile is discussed in terms of primary wage and salary employment. Primary employment excludes secondary jobs for those who hold multiple jobs. The exception is employment in agriculture, which includes self-employed and unpaid family workers in addition to wage and salary workers.
The occupational profile is viewed in terms of total employment—including primary and secondary jobs for wage and salary, self-employed, and unpaid family workers. Of the nearly 144 million jobs in the U.S. economy in 2002, wage and salary workers accounted for 132 million; self-employed workers accounted for 11.5 million; and unpaid family workers accounted for about 140,000. Secondary employment accounted for 1.7 million jobs. Self-employed workers held 9 out of 10 secondary jobs; wage and salary workers held most of the remainder.
Service-providing industries. The long-term shift from goods-producing to service-providing employment is expected to continue. Service-providing industries are expected to account for approximately 20.8 million of the 21.6 million new wage and salary jobs generated over the 2002-12 period (Chart 4).
Education and health services. This industry supersector is projected to grow faster, 31.8 percent, and add more jobs than any other industry supersector. About 1 out of every 4 new jobs created in the U.S. economy will be in either the healthcare and social assistance or private educational services sectors.
Healthcare and social assistance—including private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and individual and family services—will grow by 32.4 percent and add 4.4 million new jobs. Employment growth will be driven by increasing demand for healthcare and social assistance because of an aging population and longer life expectancies. Also, as more women enter the labor force, demand for childcare services is expected to grow.
Private educational services will grow by 28.7 percent and add 759,000 new jobs through 2012. Rising student enrollments at all levels of education will create demand for educational services.
Professional and business services. This group will grow by 30.4 percent and add nearly 5 million new jobs. This industry supersector includes some of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy.
Employment in administrative and support and waste management and remediation services will grow by 37 percent and add 2.8 million new jobs to the economy by 2012. The fastest growing industry in this sector will be employment services, which will grow by 54.3 percent and will contribute almost two-thirds of all new jobs in administrative and support and waste management and remediation services. Employment services ranks among the fastest growing industries in the Nation and is expected to be among those that provide the most new jobs.
Employment in professional, scientific, and technical services will grow by 27.8 percent and add 1.9 million new jobs by 2012. Employment in computer systems design and related services will grow by 54.6 percent and add more than one-third of all new jobs in professional, scientific, and technical services. Employment growth will be driven by the increasing reliance of businesses on information technology and the continuing importance of maintaining system and network security. Management, scientific, and technical consulting services also will grow very rapidly, by 55.4 percent, spurred by the increased use of new technology and computer software and the growing complexity of business.
Management of companies and enterprises will grow by 11.4 percent and add 195,000 new jobs.
Information. Employment in the information supersector is expected to increase by 18.5 percent, adding 632,000 jobs by 2012. Information contains some of the fast-growing computer-related industries such as software publishers; Internet publishing and broadcasting; and Internet service providers, Web search portals, and data processing services. Employment in these industries is expected to grow by 67.9 percent, 41.1 percent, and 48.2 percent, respectively. The information supersector also includes telecommunications, broadcasting, and newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers. Increased demand for residential and business land-line and wireless services, cable service, high-speed Internet connections, and software will fuel job growth among these industries.
Leisure and hospitality. Overall employment will grow by 17.8 percent. Arts, entertainment, and recreation will grow by 28 percent and add 497,000 new jobs by 2012. Most of these new job openings will come from the amusement, gambling, and recreation sector. Job growth will stem from public participation in arts, entertainment, and recreation activities—reflecting increasing incomes, leisure time, and awareness of the health benefits of physical fitness.
Accommodation and food services is expected to grow by 16.1 percent and add 1.6 million new jobs through 2012. Job growth will be concentrated in food services and drinking places, reflecting increases in population, dual-income families, and dining sophistication.
Trade, transportation, and utilities. Overall employment in this industry supersector will grow by 14.1 percent between 2002 and 2012. Transportation and warehousing is expected to increase by 914,000 jobs, or by 21.7 percent through 2012. Truck transportation will grow by 20.5 percent, adding 275,000 new jobs, while rail and water transportation are both projected to decline. The warehousing and storage and the couriers and messengers industries are projected to grow rapidly at 28.6 percent and 41.7 percent, respectively. Demand for truck transportation and warehousing services will expand as many manufacturers concentrate on their core competencies and contract out their product transportation and storage functions.
Employment in retail trade is expected to increase by 13.8 percent, from 15 million to 17.1 million. Increases in population, personal income, and leisure time will contribute to employment growth in this industry, as consumers demand more goods. Wholesale trade is expected to increase by 11.3 percent, growing from 5.6 million to 6.3 million jobs.
Employment in utilities is projected to decrease by 5.7 percent through 2012. Despite increased output, employment in electric power generation, transmission, and distribution and natural gas distribution is expected to decline through 2012 due to improved technology that increases worker productivity. However, employment in water, sewage, and other systems is expected to increase 46.4 percent by 2012. Jobs are not easily eliminated by technological gains in this industry because water treatment and waste disposal are very labor-intensive activities.
Financial activities. Employment is projected to grow 12.3 percent over the 2002-12 period. Real estate and rental and leasing is expected to grow by 18.4 percent and add 374,000 jobs by 2012. Growth will be due, in part, to increased demand for housing as the population grows. The fastest growing industry in the financial activities supersector will be commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing, which will grow by 39.8 percent.
Finance and insurance is expected to increase by 590,000 jobs, or 10.2 percent, by 2012. Employment in securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities is expected to grow 15.5 percent by 2012, reflecting the increased number of baby boomers in their peak savings years, the growth of tax-favorable retirement plans, and the globalization of the securities markets. Employment in credit intermediation and related services, including banks, will grow by 10.9 percent and add about half of all new jobs within finance and insurance. Insurance carriers and related activities is expected to grow by 7.5 percent and add 168,000 new jobs by 2012. The number of jobs within agencies, brokerages, and other insurance related activities is expected to grow about 14.5 percent, as many insurance carriers downsize their sales staffs and as agents set up their own businesses.
Government. Between 2002 and 2012, government employment, including that in public education and hospitals, is expected to increase by 11.8 percent, from 21.5 million to 24 million jobs. Growth in government employment will be fueled by growth in State and local educational services and the shift of responsibilities from the Federal Government to the State and local governments. Local government educational services is projected to increase 17.5 percent, adding over 1.3 million jobs. State government educational services also is projected to grow 17.5 percent, adding 388,000 jobs. Federal Government employment, including the Postal Service, is expected to increase by less than 1 percent as the Federal Government continues to contract out many government jobs to private companies.
Other services (except government). Employment will grow by 15.7 percent. More than 4 out of 10 new jobs in this supersector will be in religious organizations, which is expected to grow by 24.4 percent. Personal care services will be the fastest growing industry at 27.6 percent. Also included among other services is private household employment, which is expected to decrease 7.2 percent.
Goods-producing industries. Employment in the goods-producing industries has been relatively stagnant since the early 1980s. Overall, this sector is expected to grow 3.3 percent over the 2002-12 period. Although employment is expected to increase more slowly than in the service-providing industries, projected growth among goods-producing industries varies considerably (Chart 5).
Construction. Employment in construction is expected to increase by 15.1 percent, from 6.7 million to 7.7 million. Demand for new housing and an increase in road, bridge, and tunnel construction will account for the bulk of job growth in this supersector.
Manufacturing. Employment change in manufacturing will vary by individual industry, but overall employment in this supersector will decline by 1 percent or 157,000 jobs. For example, employment in plastics and rubber products manufacturing and machinery manufacturing is expected to grow by 138,000 and 120,000 jobs, respectively. Due to an aging population and increasing life expectancies, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing is expected to grow by 23.2 percent and add 68,000 jobs through 2012. However, productivity gains, job automation, and international competition will adversely affect employment in many other manufacturing industries. Employment in textile mills and apparel manufacturing will decline by 136,000 and 245,000 jobs, respectively. Employment in computer and electronic product manufacturing also will decline by 189,000 jobs through 2012.
Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting. Overall employment in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting is expected to decrease by 2 percent. Employment is expected to continue to decline due to advancements in technology. The only industry within this supersector expected to grow is support activities for agriculture and forestry, which includes farm labor contractors and farm management services. This industry is expected to grow by 18.4 percent and add 17,000 new jobs.
Mining. Employment in mining is expected to decrease 11.8 percent, or by some 60,000 jobs, by 2012. Employment in coal mining and metal ore mining is expected to decline by 30.2 percent and 38.8 percent, respectively. Employment in oil and gas extraction also is projected to decline by 27.8 percent through 2012. Employment decreases in these industries are attributable mainly to technology gains that boost worker productivity, growing international competition, restricted access to Federal lands, and strict environmental regulations that require cleaning of burning fuels.
Expansion of service-providing industries is expected to continue, creating demand for many occupations. However, projected job growth varies among major occupational groups (Chart 6).
Professional and related occupations. Professional and related occupations will grow the fastest and add more new jobs than any other major occupational group. Over the 2002-12 period, a 23.3-percent increase in the number of professional and related jobs is projected, a gain of 6.5 million. Professional and related workers perform a wide variety of duties, and are employed throughout private industry and government. About three-quarters of the job growth will come from three groups of professional occupations—computer and mathematical occupations, healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, and education, training, and library occupations—which will add 4.9 million jobs combined.
Service occupations. Service workers perform services for the public. Employment in service occupations is projected to increase by 5.3 million, or 20.1 percent, the second largest numerical gain and second highest rate of growth among the major occupational groups. Food preparation and serving related occupations are expected to add the most jobs among the service occupations, 1.6 million by 2012. However, healthcare support occupations are expected to grow the fastest, 34.5 percent, adding 1.1 million new jobs.
Management, business, and financial occupations. Workers in management, business, and financial occupations plan and direct the activities of business, government, and other organizations. Their employment is expected to increase by 2.4 million, or 15.4 percent, by 2012. Among managers, the numbers of computer and information systems managers and of preschool and childcare center/program educational administrators will grow the fastest, by 36.1 percent and 32 percent, respectively. General and operations managers will add the most new jobs, 376,000, by 2012. Farmers and ranchers are the only workers in this major occupational group whose numbers are expected to decline, losing 238,000 jobs. Among business and financial occupations, accountants and auditors and management analysts will add the most jobs, 381,000 combined. Management analysts also will be one of the fastest growing occupations in this group, along with personal financial advisors, with job increases of 30.4 percent and 34.6 percent, respectively.
Construction and extraction occupations. Construction and extraction workers construct new residential and commercial buildings, and also work in mines, quarries, and oil and gas fields. Employment of these workers is expected to grow 15 percent, adding 1.1 million new jobs. Construction trades and related workers will account for more than three-fourths of these new jobs, 857,000, by 2012. Many extraction occupations will decline, reflecting overall employment losses in the mining and oil and gas extraction industries.
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. Workers in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations install new equipment and maintain and repair older equipment. These occupations will add 776,000 jobs by 2012, growing by 13.6 percent. Automotive service technicians and mechanics and general maintenance and repair workers will account for more than 4 in 10 new installation, maintenance, and repair jobs. The fastest growth rate will be among heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, an occupation that is expected to grow 31.8 percent over the 2002-12 period.
Transportation and material moving occupations. Transportation and material-moving workers transport people and materials by land, sea, or air. The number of these workers should grow 13.1 percent, accounting for 1.3 million additional jobs by 2012. Among transportation occupations, motor vehicle operators will add the most jobs, 760,000. Rail transportation occupations are the only group in which employment is projected to decline, by 5.4 percent, through 2012. Material moving occupations will grow 8.9 percent and will add 422,000 jobs.
Sales and related occupations. Sales and related workers transfer goods and services among businesses and consumers. Sales and related occupations are expected to add 2 million new jobs by 2012, growing by 12.9 percent. The majority of these jobs will be among retail salespersons and cashiers, occupations that will add more than 1 million jobs combined.
Office and administrative support occupations. Office and administrative support workers perform the day-to-day activities of the office, such as preparing and filing documents, dealing with the public, and distributing information. Employment in these occupations is expected to grow by 6.8 percent, adding 1.6 million new jobs by 2012. Customer service representatives will add the most new jobs, 460,000. Desktop publishers will be among the fastest growing occupations in this group, increasing by 29.2 percent over the decade. Office and administrative support occupations account for 11 of the 20 occupations with the largest employment declines.
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. Farming, fishing, and forestry workers cultivate plants, breed and raise livestock, and catch animals. These occupations will grow 3.3 percent and add 35,000 new jobs by 2012. Agricultural workers, including farmworkers and laborers, accounted for the overwhelming majority of new jobs in this group. The numbers of both fishing and logging workers are expected to decline, by 26.8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
Production occupations. Production workers are employed mainly in manufacturing, where they assemble goods and operate plants. Production occupations will have the slowest job growth among the major occupational groups, 3.2 percent, adding 354,000 jobs by 2012. Jobs will be created for many production occupations, including food processing workers, machinists, and welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers. Textile, apparel, and furnishings occupations, as well as assemblers and fabricators, will account for much of the job losses among production occupations.
Among all occupations in the economy, computer and healthcare occupations are expected to grow the fastest over the projection period (Chart 7). In fact, healthcare occupations make up 10 of the 20 fastest growing occupations, while computer occupations account for 5 out of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the economy. In addition to high growth rates, these 15 computer and healthcare occupations combined will add more than 1.5 million new jobs. High growth rates among computer and healthcare occupations reflect projected rapid growth in the computer and data processing and health services industries.
The 20 occupations listed in Chart 8 will account for more than one-third of all new jobs, 8 million combined, over the 2002-12 period. The occupations with the largest numerical increases cover a wider range of occupational categories than do those occupations with the fastest growth rates. Health occupations will account for some of these increases in employment, as well as occupations in education, sales, transportation, office and administrative support, and food service. Many of these occupations are very large, and will create more new jobs than will those with high growth rates. Only 2 out of the 20 fastest growing occupations—home health aides and personal and home care aides—also are projected to be among the 20 occupations with the largest numerical increases in employment.
Declining occupational employment stems from declining industry employment, technological advancements, changes in business practices, and other factors. For example, increased productivity and farm consolidations are expected to result in a decline of 238,000 farmers and ranchers over the 2002-12 period (Chart 9). The majority of the 20 occupations with the largest numerical decreases are office and administrative support and production occupations, which are affected by increasing plant and factory automation and the implementation of office technology that reduces the needs for these workers. For example, employment of word processors and typists is expected to decline due to the proliferation of personal computers, which allows other workers to perform duties formerly assigned to word processors and typists.
Education is essential in getting a high-paying job. In fact, for all but 1 of the 50 highest paying occupations, a college degree or higher is the most significant source of education or training. Air traffic controllers is the only occupation of the 50 highest paying for which this is not the case.
Among the 20 fastest growing occupations, a bachelor’s or associate degree is the most significant source of education or training for 10 of them—network systems and data communications analysts; physician assistants; medical records and health information technicians; computer software engineers, applications; computer software engineers, systems software; physical therapist assistants; database administrators; veterinary technologists and technicians; dental hygienists; and computer systems analysts. On-the-job training is the most significant source of education or training for another 8 of the 20 fastest growing occupations—medical assistants, social and human service assistants, home health aides, physical therapist aides, hazardous materials removal workers, occupational therapist aides, dental assistants, and personal and home care aides. In contrast, on-the-job training is the most significant source of education or training for 17 of the 20 occupations with the largest numerical increases; 3 of these 20 occupations—registered nurses, postsecondary teachers, and general and operations managers—have an associate or higher degree as the most significant source of education or training. On-the-job training also is the most significant source of education or training for 19 of the 20 occupations with the largest numerical decreases; one of these 20 occupations—travel agents—has a postsecondary vocational award as the most significant source of education or training. Table 1 lists the fastest growing occupations and occupations projected to have the largest numerical increases in employment between 2002 and 2012, by level of education or training.
Job openings stem from both employment growth and replacement needs (Chart 10). Replacement needs arise as workers leave occupations. Some transfer to other occupations while others retire, return to school, or quit to assume household responsibilities. Replacement needs are projected to account for 60 percent of the approximately 56 million job openings between 2002 and 2012. Thus, even occupations projected to experience little or no growth or to decline in employment still may offer many job openings.
Professional and related occupations are projected to grow faster and add more jobs than any other major occupational group, with 6.5 million new jobs by 2012. Three-fourths of the job growth in professional and related occupations is expected among computer and mathematical occupations; healthcare practitioners and technical occupations; and education, training, and library occupations. With 5.3 million job openings due to replacement needs, professional and related occupations are the only major group projected to generate more openings from job growth than from replacement needs.
Service occupations are projected to have the largest number of total job openings, 13 million, reflecting high replacement needs. A large number of replacements will be necessary as young workers leave food preparation and service occupations. Replacement needs generally are greatest in the largest occupations and in those with relatively low pay or limited training requirements.
Office automation will significantly affect many individual office and administrative support occupations. Overall, these occupations are projected to grow more slowly than average, while some are projected to decline. Office and administrative support occupations are projected to create 7.5 million job openings over the 2002-12 period, ranking third behind service and professional and related occupations.
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations are projected to have the fewest job openings, approximately 335,000. Because job growth is expected to be slow, and levels of retirement and job turnover high, more than 85 percent of these projected job openings are due to replacement needs.
Last Modified Date: June 2, 2004