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Winter 2013–14 Vol. 57, Number 4

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When making career choices for yourself, or helping someone else to choose a career, it's good to know a few basics: the types and number of jobs likely to be available, the wages of workers in those occupations, and the ways you can prepare to work in the occupations. And that's just to get started.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides this information and more. The 2014–15 Occupational Outlook Handbook covers hundreds of occupations in detail, describing data on employment, wages, projections, education, and job duties. And several articles in the Monthly Labor Review include comprehensive descriptions of the data, analysis, and methods BLS uses in the projections.

This special issue of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly (OOQ) offers a graphic summary of the latest projections, which cover the decade from 2012 to 2022.

Reading the charts

The charts in this issue of the OOQ provide graphic answers to some basic questions about employment: How many new jobs are projected? How fast is the number of jobs projected to change? How many job openings are expected for people who are entering an occupation?

How many new jobs are projected? Charts that show numeric change illustrate how many new jobs are projected. In general, the occupations and industries with the greatest numeric increases are those that already have large numbers of workers.

How fast is the number of jobs projected to change? Charts showing percent change illustrate how fast the number of jobs is projected to change (the rate of job growth or decline during the 2012–22 decade). The fastest rates of growth are often in occupations and industries that do not have large numbers of workers.

Fast growth does not always mean many new jobs. For example, see the following three charts. The first two charts show projected employment growth for general office clerks compared with that for interpreters and translators. The third chart shows, for office clerks, projected employment growth as part of projected total openings.

As this first chart illustrates, employment of interpreters and translators is expected to grow more than 7 times faster than that of general office clerks.

Percent employment growth in two occupations, projected 2012–22


But in numeric terms, that faster growth doesn't mean a greater number of new jobs. As this chart shows, over 6 times as many new jobs are projected for general office clerks as for interpreters and translators from 2012–22.

Numeric employment growth in two occupations, projected 2012–22, in thousands of jobs


How many job openings are expected? Some charts go beyond showing the expected change in the total number of jobs and show how many job openings are expected for workers who are entering an occupation. This includes not only openings from growth in the number of jobs but also openings from the need to replace workers who retire or leave an occupation permanently. This chart shows employment growth as part of total job openings projected for general office clerks. Most openings for these workers are expected to come from the need to replace existing clerks who leave the occupation.

Job openings for general office clerks, projected 2012–22, in thousands of openings

Highlights of the projections

The charts show the projected 2012–22 changes in occupational employment, the labor force, and industry employment. You will get the most out of the charts if you understand how BLS organizes data in these areas.

Occupation classifies jobs according to the type of work performed. For example, people who help retail customers find and buy products are in the occupation of retail salespersons. Projections highlights in this section include:

  • Occupational groups related to healthcare are projected to have the fastest growth and to add the most new jobs.
  • About 51 million job openings for workers entering an occupation are expected across 22 occupational groups.
  • Industrial-organizational psychologists is projected to be the fastest growing occupation.
  • Personal care aides and registered nurses are expected to gain the most new jobs: more than 500,000 each.
  • Most projected job openings for workers entering an occupation come from the need to replace workers who have left the occupation, rather than from the need to fill newly created jobs.
  • In most of the growing occupations that typically require a degree or a non-degree award, median annual wages are higher than the median wage for all workers. The same is true of occupations in these education groups that have many openings. (See the education charts starting at graduate degree.)
  • In growing occupations that typically require a high school diploma or less, experience or on-the-job training is often required at the entry level.
  • Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers are projected to lose the most jobs.

Labor force is a measure of the number of people available for work. It includes both people who are employed and those who are unemployed (those not working but actively looking for a job). It excludes active-duty military personnel and the institutionalized population, such as prison inmates. Projections highlights include:

Industry classifies jobs in businesses according to the type of good produced or service provided by that business. For example, any job in clothing stores—such as retail salesperson or stock clerk—is classified as part of the retail trade industry. Projections highlights include:

  • Job growth is projected to be concentrated in service-providing industries.
  • The health care and social assistance sector is expected both to grow the fastest and to add the most jobs.
  • Many of the detailed industries that are projected to grow the fastest are in the health care and professional and business services sectors.
  • The construction industry is expected to gain the most new jobs. All of this projected growth is to regain jobs lost during the 2007–09 recession but is still not enough to return construction to its prerecession employment level.
  • Of the industries projected to lose the most jobs, nearly half are in manufacturing.

How we develop the BLS projections

BLS economists in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections develop the projections in a number of steps, first analyzing broad trends and then examining several hundred industries and occupations.

The 2007–09 recession affects the projections, in part because the economy has been slow to recover. Although the recession ended in 2009, the economy added about 2.3 million jobs between 2010 and 2012—just over 30 percent of the 7.6 million jobs lost between 2006 and 2010. Some of the projected changes in employment between 2012 and 2022 include regaining jobs that were lost during the downturn. For example, of the 15.6 million new jobs projected to be added to the economy between 2012 and 2022, about 5.3 million are needed just to return total employment to its prerecession level from 2006.

Population and labor force. We begin developing projections by analyzing how much the U.S. population and labor force are expected to grow over the next 10 years. We use population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, which take into account trends in births, deaths, and immigration.

We combine the population projections with our own estimates of what portion of the population is expected to be in the labor force, based on historical trends for each age, gender, and race or ethnic group. The result is a projection of the labor force—an estimate of the total supply of workers in the future economy.

Economic growth. We then create a model of an economy that is operating at full potential, given the labor force and several other factors. Using this framework, we estimate the dollar value of each industry's total output of goods or services. Some of these goods and services are sold to other industries; for example, plastics are used in making computers. Other output—such as the computers themselves or computer-user support services—is sold directly to consumers.

Industry employment. We also study trends in productivity—the amount of output produced per hour of work. Because of technological advances, for example, some industries are able to increase output with fewer employees. We use this information to translate projected output into the number of jobs that each industry needs to produce these goods and provide these services.

Occupational employment. Next, we project how the jobs in each industry are expected to be distributed by occupation. We depict how employment in each of more than 300 industries is distributed across over 800 occupations. To do this, we make extensive use of the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey, and we obtain information from other sources for sectors that are not covered by the survey. (For the 2012–22 projections, we used 2012 employment data.)

We analyze how this distribution is likely to change over the decade by studying trends in technology, changing skill requirements, and other factors. Our projection methods are based on the fact that employment trends in most occupations are closely tied to the trends in particular industries. Using this analysis, along with the survey data and our industry employment projections, we project employment by occupation—in this set of projections, for 2022.


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Last Updated: December 16, 2013