Employment Projections: 2020-2030 Technical Note
Last Modified Date: September 08, 2021
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
--Industry employment: www.bls.gov/emp/data/industry-out-and-emp.htm
--Occupational employment: www.bls.gov/emp/data/occupational-data.htm
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.
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
Frequently asked questions about the employment projections are online at
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.