December 2013

Industry employment and output projections to 2022


Table 2. Output, by major industry sector, 2002, 2012, and projected 2022
Industry sectorBillions of chained 2005 dollarsAnnual rate of changeBillions of dollarsPercent distribution
2002201220222002 –20122012 –2022200220122022200220122022



Goods producing, excluding agriculture








Service providing




Wholesale trade


Retail trade


Transportation and warehousing




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, forestry, fishing, and hunting


Special industries(1)




(1) Consist of nonproducing accounting categories to reconcile the Bureau of Economic Analysis input–output system with NIPA accounts.

(2) Residual is shown for the first level only. As a byproduct of chain-weighting, subcategories do not necessarily add to higher level categories.

Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections Program.

Macroeconomic factors, such as the labor force, gross domestic product (GDP) and its components, and labor productivity, affect the growth in total employment. BLS projects that GDP will grow at an annual rate of 2.6 percent between 2012 and 2022, a growth rate that is higher than the annual rate of 1.6 percent experienced during the 2002–2012 period,6 which included the recession that ended in June 2009. GDP is expected to increase from $13.6 trillion in 2012 to just under $17.6 trillion in 2022, an increase of almost $4.0 trillion, which is higher than the $2.0 trillion increase experienced during the previous decade. While GDP is expected to grow faster during the projection period than it did during the previous decade, the labor force is projected to grow at a slower pace than it did over the previous decade. The civilian labor force is projected to grow from 155 million in 2012 to 163.5 million in 2022, an annual growth rate of 0.5 percent. The labor force increase of 8.5 million is smaller than the increase of 10.1 million, an annual growth rate of 0.7 percent, experienced during the previous decade. Nonfarm labor productivity, which measures output per hour of labor, is projected to increase by 2.0 percent annually from 2012 to 2022, slightly faster than the 1.9-percent-per-year growth seen between 2002 and 2012. These macroeconomic variables, along with the forecasting models for the individual industries, inform the final projections for industry employment and output.7

It is important to keep in mind that employment is still recovering from the latest recession. Although the recession ended in 2009, total nonagricultural wage and salary employment tends to lag output in recovery and did not start to grow until 2011. (See figure 1.) Employment fell by 0.6 percent between 2007 and 2008 and by another 4.4 percent between 2008 and 2009. These declines were followed by a 1.3-percent employment gain from 2010 to 2011 and a 1.7-percent gain from 2011 to 2012. The construction sector is a good example of the lag in employment rebound after a recession; in that sector, employment fell by 16.0 percent between 2008 and 2009 and grew by 2.0 percent between 2011 and 2012. (See discussion of construction employment that follows.)

Because economic growth during the present recovery has remained relatively slow compared with that of past recoveries, the expectations about the path of future GDP growth and the labor force participation rate have shifted. Changing demographics, as well as the upcoming retirement of the baby-boom generation, are expected to lower the labor force participation rate. These shifts, along with further reductions in federal government spending, will result in slower growth in the total number of nonagricultural wage and salary jobs over this projection period compared with other projection periods.8

The number of total nonagricultural jobs is projected to be almost 149.8 million in 2022, lower than the 150.2 million anticipated for 2020 in the 2010–2020 projections.9 The 2010–2020 projections had a base year of 2010, whereas the 2012–2022 projections have a base year of 2012. Because employment in 2010 was still suffering from the effects of the recession, the 2010 base-year value is, in most instances, lower than the 2012 base-year value. This difference resulted in most industries having lower growth rates in the 2012–2022 projections than they did in the 2010–2020 projections. For example, in the 2010–2020 projections, the number of wage and salary jobs in construction was projected to grow from 5.5 million in 2010 to almost 7.4 million in 2020, an annual rate of increase of 2.9 percent.10 In the 2012–2022 projections, the number of construction jobs is expected to increase from 5.6 million in 2012 to 7.3 million in 2022, an annual rate of increase of 2.6 percent, which is lower than the projected rate for 2010–2020. (See discussion of construction employment.)


6 For more information on the projections for the macroeconomic variables, see Maggie Woodward, “The U.S. economy to 2022: settling into a new normal," Monthly Labor Review, December 2013,

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 For more information on the 2010–2020 employment projections, see Richard Henderson, “Industry employment and output projections to 2020,” Monthly Labor Review, January 2012, pp. 65–83,

10 Ibid.

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About the Author

Richard Henderson

Richard Henderson is an economist in the Division of Industry Employment Projections, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics.