December 2013

Industry employment and output projections to 2022


Sector highlights

The service-providing sectors are responsible for the largest proportion of total employment and for the most of the job growth over the projection period. The health care and social assistance sector11 is expected to add the largest number of jobs and become the sector with the largest number of jobs by 2022, overtaking the state and local government sector, which accounted for more jobs in 2012. (See table 1.) The health care and social assistance sector was not as greatly affected by the last recession as were other sectors and continued to have robust growth even during the recession. This resilience, along with the newly enacted Affordable Health Care Act, changing demographics, and advances in technology, should continue to drive employment growth in this sector. The service-providing sectors also are expected to account for the largest portion of real output over the projection period. Because of several factors, including efforts to reduce budget deficits, the federal government is the only major sector in the economy projected to experience output declines.

The recovery in the construction sector will account for almost all of the job growth in the goods-producing sectors over the projection period. By contrast, manufacturing is expected to experience a slight decline in employment because of productivity gains, international trade, and consolidation of firms. Construction, along with the health care and social assistance sector, is projected to have the fastest employment growth in the entire economy. (See table 1.) The construction sector also is projected to see the fastest growth in real output over the 2012–2022 period. Output growth is much faster than employment growth in the goods-producing sectors because these sectors tend to be much more productive than are the service-providing sectors. Even though output is expected to increase in all goods-producing sectors, the percentage of nominal output that these sectors contribute to the economy is expected to decline. (See table 2.)

Job growth is expected to be highest in the service-providing sectors, in which the number of wage and salary workers is expected to increase from 116.1 million in 2012 to 130.2 million in 2022, an annual growth rate of 1.2 percent, faster than the 0.7-percent annual growth rate experienced between 2002 and 2012. The health care and social assistance sector is projected to have the most job growth, adding almost 5.0 million jobs. The 2.6-percent-per-year growth rate is the fastest among all major service-producing sectors. (See table 1.) Real output in the wholesale trade sector is projected to experience the fastest growth among all major service-providing sectors, growing at 3.7 percent per year, from $1.1 billion in 2012 to almost $1.6 billion in 2022. (See table 2.) As noted earlier, the proportion of total nominal output for the service-providing sectors is expected to continue to increase, climbing from 68.3 percent in 2012 to 69.4 percent in 2022. This increase continues the trend seen in the 2002–2012 period, in which the share of total nominal output attributed to the service-providing sectors grew by 1 percentage point. (See table 2.)


11 This set of BLS projections is based on the 2007 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Within this article, sectors generally refer to two-digit NAICS categories, subsectors to three-digit NAICS categories, and industries to either two-, three-, or four-digit NAICS categories.

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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.