BLS employment projections are intended to capture long-term structural changes in the labor market. The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant short-term impacts on the U.S. economy and labor market, but the long-term impacts remain unclear. The 2019-29 employment projections that were released on September 1, 2020 reflect data and information predating the pandemic and thus do not account for the impacts of the pandemic.
Two alternate scenario projections, a moderate impact scenario and a strong impact scenario, were developed to provide the public with a preliminary assessment of potential long-term structural changes in the labor market caused by pandemic-induced changes in consumer and firm behavior. The principal objective was to identify industries and occupations whose employment trajectories are subject to higher levels of uncertainty.
The 2019-29 projections were used as the baseline projections for the alternate scenarios. Detailed information on how BLS employment projections are developed can be found in the Projections Methods Overview.
Two distinct aspects of the employment projections process were changed in the production of the alternate scenarios: final demand and occupational staffing patterns.
In the alternate scenarios, the major final demand category projections from Macroeconomic Advisors by IHS Markit (MA) were not used as constraints for the model’s final demand sectors. This allowed for direct changes to final demand categories that reflect increased or decreased firm or consumer demand due to the pandemic. It should be noted that by changing final demand, aspects of the macroeconomic projections for the principal 2019-29 projections were also implicitly changed.
The staffing patterns used in the National Employment Matrix were then adjusted based on new assumptions regarding structural changes in occupational employment.
An article about the pandemic alternate scenarios was published in the February 2021 Monthly Labor Review. This article compares the alternate scenarios with the baseline 2019-29 employment projections and examines how changes in consumer and firm behavior caused by the pandemic may cause long-term structural changes to the U.S. labor market.
Last Modified Date: February 17, 2021