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Economic News Release
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Employment Projections: 2021-2031 Technical Note

Technical Note

BLS publishes projections for the labor force, the macroeconomy, industry employment, 
and occupational employment. More information is available online:

 --Labor force: www.bls.gov/emp/data/labor-force.htm

 --Macroeconomy: www.bls.gov/emp/data/aggregate-economy.htm

 --Industry employment: www.bls.gov/emp/data/industry-out-and-emp.htm 

 --Occupational employment: www.bls.gov/emp/data/occupational-data.htm 

The projections data provide an overview of expected changes in the economy over a
decade. The projections focus on long-term structural trends of the economy and do
not try to anticipate future business cycle activity. Cyclical change refers to 
short-term business cycle fluctuations around a trend. For example, employment may
decline in a particular industry during a recession (cyclical decline) and grow 
during the recovery immediately following the recession (cyclical growth), eventually
returning to the long-term trend level. Structural change refers to the long-term
trend and in the case of employment reflects changes in the allocation of employment
by industry and occupation. Structural changes in industry or occupational employment
are based on factors such as changes in consumer preferences that affect the demand
for goods and services or new technology that affects production practices.

To maintain a focus on long-term trends, BLS makes specific assumptions about the 
labor force, macroeconomy, industry employment, and occupational employment. Critical
to the production of these projections is the assumption of full employment for the
economy in the projected year. The projections are not intended to be a forecast of
what the future will be but instead to describe what is expected under these 
specific assumptions and circumstances. When these assumptions are not realized,
actual values will differ from projected values.

The difference between projected changes in the labor force and in employment does 
not necessarily imply a labor shortage or surplus. The BLS projections assume labor
market equilibrium; that is, one in which labor supply meets labor demand except for
some level of frictional unemployment. In addition, the employment and labor force
measures use different definitional and statistical concepts. For example, 
employment is a count of jobs, and one person may hold more than one job. Labor 
force is a count of all individuals who are either employed or unemployed and 
actively looking for work, and a person is counted only once regardless of how many
jobs he or she holds.

For more information, visit the Employment Projections Methodology page online at 
www.bls.gov/opub/hom/emp/home.htm.

Frequently asked questions about the employment projections are online at
www.bls.gov/emp/frequently-asked-questions.htm.

Users and Uses

The BLS projections are used by high school and college students, their teachers
and parents, jobseekers, career counselors, and guidance specialists to determine
jobs in demand. The projections also are used by state workforce agencies to
prepare state and area projections that, together with the national projections, 
are widely used by policymakers to make decisions about education and training, 
funding allocations, and program offerings. These projections of jobs in demand help
improve the alignment between education and training and the hiring needs of 
employers. In addition, other federal agencies, researchers, and academics use the
projections to understand trends in the economy and labor market. 

Projections of industry and occupational employment are prepared by each state, 
using input from the BLS national projections. State projections data are 
available at Projections Central www.projectionscentral.org.



Last Modified Date: September 08, 2022