Once every two years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its employment outlook. This report is perhaps the most detailed and most cited effort to provide a long-term forecast of the U.S. labor market. Recently, the BLS released its employment outlook for the 2010 to 2020 period. Below, we describe the main findings, and focus, in particular, on the results by occupation.
Over that period, the BLS expects the workforce to increase at a rate of 0.7 percent per year. It also predicts a full employment economy by 2020, adding 20.5 million jobs and lowering unemployment to 5.2 percent. GDP growth is expected to be at 3 percent on average. Out of its 749 occupation categories, 657 are projected to grow. In particular, the BLS predicts how the U.S. economy will return to full employment following the 2007 to 2009 recession through employment growth within various occupations.
Table 1 - fifty of the fastest growing occupations (2010-2020)
The table above showcases fifty of the fastest growing occupations, according to the BLS. The top two occupations, personal care aides and home health aides, reflect the impact of the aging U.S. population on demand jobs. By 2020, 36.6 percent of the population will be over the age of 55, an increase of 5.2 percent. Two out of every five occupations on this list also demonstrate that Americans are increasing spending on health and wellness over the decade.
Another industry expected to grow dramatically in terms of occupations is construction. One in five of the fastest growing occupations are related to construction, which is likely to be one of the fastest growing industries according to BLS, as a result of its current depressed level. The BLS notes, however, that even this increase is not likely to result in pre-recessionary levels of employment in the construction industry.
The growth in jobs related to additional technology demands demonstrates a third trend in the BLS’s projections, constituting one in ten of the occupations on the list. Similarly, the rate of increase in market research analysts, personal financial advisors, and financial analysts indicate the growing need for professionals who can use data to aid in decision making processes.
Many of the occupations on this list require lower levels of education. The BLS predicts that 62.6 percent of new jobs, and 69.2 percent of job openings due to growth and replacement, will occur in occupations where only lower levels of education are necessary. These jobs often require short to moderate on-the-job training; occupations which require only high school diplomas, and that typically include apprenticeships, are expected to grow by 22.5 percent – twice as fast as the average growth rate for this group of occupations. At the same time, BLS projections suggest that jobs requiring a Masters level degree are projected to grow by 21.7 percent, the fastest among all education levels.
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