Employment Projections to 2012: Concepts and Context: BLS Projections Are Carried out against a Background of Explicit Assumptions and Model-Based Findings That Connect the Past to the Future; the Projections Form the Basis for Providing Information on Entering the Job Market, Changing Careers, and Choosing Appropriate Educational and Training Paths to Job Success

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This issue of the Monthly Labor Review resents the BLS employment outlook for e period from 2002 to 2012. The 2012 projections continue a longstanding tradition of BLS examinations of future job prospects dating back more than 50 years. First begun to assist returning World War II veterans back into the world of work, the BLS projections program has grown steadily from a project that reported simple descriptive material about available occupations to an undertaking encompassing a model-based approach that develops projections of the macroeconomy, the labor force, industry employment and output, and occupational employment growth.

The BLS projections are based on a long-term view of the U.S. economy that assumes a long-run full-employment economy in which labor markets clear. As a result, BLS projections address the question, "How would employment in industries and occupations grow if the economy were to operate at its full potential a decade from now?" In the article "The U.S. economy to 2012: signs of growth," which focuses on projected trends in the macroeconomy, Betty W. Su reports the results of a macroeconomic model according to which the overall U.S. economy is expected to grow from $9.4 trillion in 2002 to $12.6 trillion in 2012 (measured in chain-weighted 1996 dollars). This increase represents a growth rate of 3.0 percent per year in the real gross domestic product (GDP) of the economy. On the basis of the results from the macroeconomic model, the unemployment rate in 2012 is projected to be 5.2 percent and the annual rate of growth of productivity is expected to be 2.1 percent. Given these broad indicators of economic growth, the model used to describe macroeconomic activity provides detailed projections of four categories of expenditures: personal consumption, investment, government, and foreign trade. These projections are necessary as input to the industry projections that, in turn, form the basis of the occupational projections.

Another major factor to consider in projecting the path of the U.S. economy is the available labor supply over the next decade. In the article "Labor force projections to 2012: the graying of the U.S. workforce," Mitra Toossi uses Census Bureau population projections based on the 2000 census, along with historical trends in labor participation rates, to project labor force levels and participation rates for 136 age, sex, and race or ethnicity groups over the 2002-12 period. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the labor force to grow from 144.9 million in 2002 to 162.3 million in 2012, an annual growth rate of approximately 1.1 percent.

The third major area of analysis translates the growth in the macroeconomy into the levels of final market output of each industry and the levels of intermediate inputs that are purchased by each industry to produce that output. In the article "Industry output and employment projections to 2012," Jay M. Berman reports that the flow of goods and services purchased in the production process or delivered to the. market as final products will reach a total of $23.2 trillion in chain-weighted 1996 dollars) in 2012. The number of jobs needed to support this level of economic activity is expected to grow from 144.0 million to 165.3 million. The 2002-12 projections present detailed industry flows of inputs and outputs, using the 2002 North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). This is the first set of BLS employment projections developed from the NAICS; past projections utilized the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification System (SIC). The 2004-2005 BLS Career Guide to Industries, a companion publication to the BLS projections, offers a detailed description of NAICS-based industries and the impact the changeover will have on industry and occupational employment over the 2002-12 period.

On the basis of the description of industry production and total employment needs reported in the three articles, data from the Occupational Employment Survey (OES) are used to project the occupational staffing patterns needed in each industry. …