BLS Projects Employment and Occupational Outlook For The Next Decade

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections are used to determine jobs in demand. The projections also are used by state workforce agencies to prepare state and area projections that, together with the national projections, are widely used by policymakers to make decisions about education and training, funding allocations, and program offerings. These projections of jobs in demand help improve the alignment between education and training and the hiring demands of business. In addition, other federal agencies, researchers, and academics use the projections to understand trends in the economy and labor market.

2019 – 2028

Employment is projected to grow by 8.4 million jobs to 169.4 million jobs over the 2018–28 decade, the BLS  reported today. This expansion reflects an annual growth rate of 0.5 percent, which is slower than the 2008–18 annual growth rate of 0.8 percent. An aging population and labor force will contribute to changes expected over the coming decade including a continued decline in the labor force participation rate and continued growth in employment in healthcare and related industries and occupations.

Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to grow at much the same rate from 2018 to 2028 as it did in the previous decade; labor productivity is projected to accelerate slightly from the previous decade to an annual rate of 1.6 percent, higher than the previous decade’s annual rate of 1.3 percent.

The following are highlights of BLS projections for the labor force, the macroeconomy, and industry and occupational employment.

Labor Force

  • The labor force is projected to increase at an annual rate of 0.5 percent from 2018 to 2028. This growth represents an increase of 8.9 million over the decade to 171 million by 2028. The labor force participation rate is projected to decline to 61.2 percent. See www.bls.gov/emp/tables/civilian-labor-force-summary.htm.
  • Older workers, those ages 65 years and older, are increasingly staying in the workforce. The labor force participation rate for these workers is expected to increase to 23.3 percent by 2028. Conversely, the labor force participation rate for those ages 16 to 24 is projected to continue to decline, to 51.7 percent. This decline is expected due to increased time spent in school and displaced opportunities as older workers fill jobs historically held by younger workers. See www.bls.gov/emp/tables/civilian-labor-force-participation-rate.htm.
  • The share of workers ages 55 and older–a group that includes baby boomers, who are staying in the workforce longer–is projected to continue to increase over the 2018–28 decade, from 23.1 percent to 25.2 percent.
  • Much of the projected decline in the overall labor force participation rate from 2018 to 2028 is due to a decrease in the participation rate for men, from 69.1 percent to 66.1 percent. However, the participation rate for women is also expected to decline over the decade, from 57.1 percent to 56.6 percent.

Macroeconomy

  • Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012 chained dollars is projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.8 percent from 2018 to 2028, the same rate as that of the 2008–18 decade. See www.bls.gov/emp/tables/real-gdp-major-demand-category.htm.
  • Although GDP growth is projected to remain steady, labor productivity is expected to accelerate. Productivity is projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.6 percent from 2018 to 2028, slightly faster than the 2008–18 rate of 1.3 percent. The projected growth indicates a recovery back to long-run productivity growth rates, and is expected due to a combination of factors, such as capital investment, technological advancement, and workforce education. See www.bls.gov/emp/tables/labor-supply-factors-affecting-productivity.htm.

Industry Employment

  • Industry employment is projected to grow at an annual rate of 0.5 percent from 2018 to 2028, slower than the annual rate of 0.8 percent from 2008 to 2018. Employment will increase to about 169.4 million over the projections decade. See www.bls.gov/emp/tables/employment-by-major-industry-sector.htm.
  • The service-providing sector as a whole will grow at a projected rate of 0.6 percent annually, slightly faster than the annual rate of 0.5 percent for industry employment overall. This growth is projected to add more than 7.6 million jobs, resulting in 136.8 million jobs in the service-providing sector by 2028. After declining slightly from 2008 to 2018 (-0.3 percent annually), the goods-producing sector is expected to change little from 2018–28, with an annual growth rate of 0.1 percent.
  • The sectors projected to experience the fastest annual employment growth are health care and social assistance (1.6 percent), private educational services (1.2 percent), and construction (1.1 percent). These three sectors alone are projected to add more than 4.6 million jobs by 2028–including 3.4 million new jobs projected in healthcare and social assistance.
  • Five sectors are projected to experience employment declines from 2018 to 2028: retail trade, wholesale trade, utilities, federal government, and manufacturing. Retail trade is projected to decline by 0.1 percent annually, resulting in an employment decrease of 153,700 jobs. One factor contributing to this decline is a shift to e-commerce, which is also driving employment growth in the transportation and warehousing sector.

Occupational Employment

  • Occupational employment is projected to grow by 5.2 percent from 2018 to 2028, an increase of 8.4 million jobs. Many of the fastest growing occupations are in healthcare and related services. Other rapid-growth occupations are in computer and mathematics and in renewable energy fields.See www.bls.gov/emp/tables/emp-by-major-occupational-group.htm.
  • Employment in nearly all major occupational groups is projected to increase from 2018 to 2028. The fastest growing groups include healthcare support occupations (18.2 percent), personal care and service occupations (17.4 percent), computer and mathematical occupations (12.7 percent), healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (11.9 percent), and community and social service occupations (11.2 percent).
  • Three occupational groups are projected to have declining employment over the 2018–28 decade. Employment in sales and related occupations is expected to decline by 0.5 percent as consumers increasingly make purchases online through e-commerce. Office and administrative support occupations and production occupations are also expected to have employment declines, 2.6 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, as advancements in technology and automation increase productivity or shift work to other occupations.
  • Of the 30 fastest growing occupations, 18 are in healthcare and related occupations. Increased demand for healthcare services from an aging population and people with chronic conditions will drive much of the expected employment growth. The fastest growing among these occupations are home health aides and personal care aides. Other healthcare occupations with rapid projected growth–including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and medical assistants–will be in greater demand as the healthcare industry moves toward delivery of team-based care. See www.bls.gov/emp/tables/fastest-growing-occupations.htm.
  • Computer and mathematical occupations account for 6 of the 30 fastest growing occupations. Increasing use of mobile and connected devices will drive demand for application software developers, which is projected to experience employment growth of 25.6 percent. The need for robust online security will also rise as more connected devices enter homes and workplaces. This increased need for cybersecurity will drive demand for information security analysts, employment of which is projected to grow by 31.6 percent.
  • Advances in, and implementation of, renewable energy technologies are expected to drive employment growth in the two occupations with the highest projected growth rates: solar photovoltaic installers (63.3 percent) and wind turbine technicians (56.9 percent). Despite the rapid growth projected in these occupations, their small employment size means that the growth is projected to yield only 6,100 new jobs and 3,800 new jobs, respectively.

Projections of industry and occupational employment are prepared by each state, using input from the BLS National projections. State projections data are available at Projections Central www.projectionscentral.com.

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