Occupational Employment Projections to 2012: Employment in Professional and Related and in Service Occupations Are Expected to Increase the Fastest and Add the Most Jobs from 2002 to 2012, While Office and Administrative Support Occupations Should Grow about Half as Fast as the Total; Production Occupations Should Grow Very Slowly

By Hecker, Daniel E.; Frank, David S. | Monthly Labor Review, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Occupational Employment Projections to 2012: Employment in Professional and Related and in Service Occupations Are Expected to Increase the Fastest and Add the Most Jobs from 2002 to 2012, While Office and Administrative Support Occupations Should Grow about Half as Fast as the Total; Production Occupations Should Grow Very Slowly


Hecker, Daniel E., Frank, David S., Monthly Labor Review


Total employment is projected to increase by 21.3 million jobs over the 2002-12 period, rising to 165.3 million, according to the latest projections of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1) This increase represents about 600,000 more jobs than were added over the previous 10-year period (1992-2002). The projected 14.8-percent increase, however, is less than the 16.8-percent increase of the previous 10-year period. Self employment is projected to decline 2.3 percent, from 11.5 to 11.2 million.

This article discusses a number of aspects of the projections along with related information:

* changes in the structure of employment at the major occupational group level;

* the detailed occupations (2) that are projected to grow fastest as well as those with the largest numerical increases and decreases, along with their current educational and training requirements and earnings; and

* the total job openings projected to occur due to growth in the economy and the net replacement needs resulting from workers who leave the labor force or transfer to other occupations

In this article, projected employment is analyzed from two perspectives--percent change and numerical change--because one can be large and the other small, depending on the size of employment in the base year. The following example using data for two occupations generally requiring the same level of education--a bachelor's degree--illustrates the importance of viewing job outlook from both perspectives:

   Employment of environmental engineers is
   projected to grow twice as fast as employment
   of accountants and auditors over the
   2002-12 period, 38.2 percent, compared

   with 19.5 percent. However, the accountants
   and auditors occupation is projected
   to add more than 11 times the number of
   new jobs (205,000 compared with 18,000),
   because employment was so much larger
   than for environmental engineers in 2002
   (1,055,000 compared with 47,000).

Major occupational groups

Among the major occupational groups, employment in the two largest in 2002--professional and related occupations and service occupations--will increase the fastest and add the most jobs from 2002 to 2012. (See table 1.) These major groups, which are on opposite ends of the educational attainment and earnings spectrum, are expected to provide more than half of the total job growth from 2002 to 2012. Employment is projected to grow about as fast as overall employment in management, business, and financial occupations and in construction and extraction occupations. Employment in installation, maintenance, and repair; transportation and material moving; and sales and related occupations will grow somewhat more slowly. The three slowest growing groups--all with rates less than 7 percent--are office and administrative support occupations; farming, fishing, and forestry occupations; and production occupations.

As a result of the different growth rates among the major occupational groups, the occupational distribution of total employment will change somewhat by the year 2012, but the relative ranking of the groups by employment size is not expected to change. Professional and related occupations will continue to rank first, while farming, fishing, and forestry occupations will continue to rank last. Professional and related and service occupations will significantly increase their relative share of employment--by 1.5 and 0.9 percentage points, respectively. However, office and administrative support occupations and production occupations should decrease significantly--by 1.2 and 0.8 points, respectively. (See table 1.)

The growth of occupational groups (and occupations) is determined, in large part, by growth in industries in which they are concentrated. For example, professional occupations are projected to grow the fastest, in large part because they are concentrated in some fast-growing industries such as healthcare and social assistance; and professional, scientific, and technical services; while production occupations are projected to grow very slowly, largely because 7 out of 10 are in the declining manufacturing sector.

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Occupational Employment Projections to 2012: Employment in Professional and Related and in Service Occupations Are Expected to Increase the Fastest and Add the Most Jobs from 2002 to 2012, While Office and Administrative Support Occupations Should Grow about Half as Fast as the Total; Production Occupations Should Grow Very Slowly
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