Highlights from the New Industry Employment Projections

Posted on December 21, 2015 by Greg Chmura

Every two years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics updates their long-term growth projections for industry and occupation employment. Their latest was published earlier this month and includes many notable changes.

The biggest change, perhaps, is in the forecast for overall employment growth. For the 2012-2022 period, job growth overall was expected to average 1.0% per year—equivalent to about 1.6 million jobs per year. For 2014-2024, however, job growth is expected to be an average annualized 0.6%, or little under 1.0 million per year. Contributing to this slower projection is the aging baby boom generation which is moving into retirement and out of the labor force.

In the industry projections, nearly all of the sectors that had been projected to expand in 2012-2022 are expected to continue to grow but more slowly. The health care and social assistance sector is forecast to grow the quickest, at a 1.9% average annualized rate (AAR). Construction is projected to expand at a 1.2% pace, much slower than the 2.6% rate projected for 2012-2022. Professional and business services as well as educational services are projected to have above-average 0.9% annualized growth for 2014-2024.

Nonagriculture self-employment is the only group to have an increase in its rate of expected growth, from 0.6% AAR in 2012-2022 to 0.7% AAR for 2014-2024. This is another projection influenced by shifting demographics as older workers, in general, are more likely to be self-employed.

BLS Employment Projections by Industry Sector

Total Mining Construction Manufacturing Utilities Wholesale trade Retail trade Transportation and warehousing Information Financial activities Professional and business services Educational services Health care and social assistance Leisure and hospitality Other services Federal government State and local government Agriculture wage and salary Agriculture self-employed and unpaid family workers Nonagriculture self-employed and unpaid family worker -2.0% -1.0% 0.0% 1.0% 2.0% Average Annualized Percent Change -2.8% 2.6% 1.0% 1.4% 2.6% -0.5% -1.1% 0.8% 0.7% 0.7% -0.2% 0.9% 1.8% 1.9% 2.6% 0.9% 1.0% -1.6% 0.5% -0.2% -2.8% 0.6% 0.6% 0.9% 1.2% -0.7% -0.9% 0.5% 0.5% 0.3% -0.1% 0.6% 0.9% 0.9% 1.9% 0.6% 0.4% -1.5% 0.4% -0.6% -0.5% 0.7% 2012-22 2014-24
Source: Employment Projections program, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

While health care industries are expected to see quick job growth in 2014-2024—especially home health care services (+4.8% AAR) and outpatient care centers (+4.1% AAR)—projections for social assistance job growth were muted. Child day care services (+0.7% AAR) and individual and family services (+1.3% AAR) are both projected to expand employment, but at significantly slower paces compared with 2012-2022 expectations.

Within the education sector, the private postsecondary schools are forecast to have slower employment growth. Private junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools were projected to have 2.2% annualized average job growth in 2012-2022, but that forecast was cut to 1.2% per year for 2014-2024. This slowdown shouldn’t be a surprise in the light of the decline in college-aged population.

Within manufacturing, wood product is expected to contract employment at an annualized pace of 0.2% in 2014-2024, much slower than prior expectations of an average pace of 1.4% job growth for 2012-2022. Manufacturing industries that are expected to expand employment in 2014-2024 include architectural and structural metals (+0.3% AAR); agriculture, construction, and mining machinery (+0.5% AAR); medical equipment and supplies (+0.1% AAR); and beverage manufacturing (+0.3% AAR).

The professional, scientific, and technical services sector is expected to continue to grow at an above-average pace. Fast-growing industries in this sector are projected to include computer systems design and related services (+2.1% AAR 2014-2024); management, scientific, and technical consulting services (+2.4% AAR); and architectural, engineering, and related services (+0.8% AAR).

As mentioned in the opening, the BLS also updated their occupation projections. We’ll go into highlights from those in my next blog post.

This blog reflects Chmura staff assessments and opinions with the information available at the time the blog was written.