December 2013

Occupational employment projections to 2022


Projected occupational employment is based on projected industry employment.5 BLS projections are a measure of how employment in industries and occupations grow if the economy were to operate at its full potential a decade from now. However, not all occupations within an industry grow at the same rate, so BLS analysts make adjustments to occupational distributions within industries before arriving at final occupational projections. How analysts determine an occupation’s growth or decline is described in more detail in the “Drivers of occupational growth and decline” section below. The assumptions that BLS used to develop the projections presented in this article reflect the best information available at the time. New projections are developed and released every 2 years to account for changes in factors such as consumer preferences, regulations, and the U.S. economy.

Replacement needs. In addition to projecting occupational growth—that is, the number of new jobs expected—BLS provides estimates of the number of jobs that will need to be filled in each occupation as workers change occupations, retire, or leave the labor force and need to be replaced. These projections of job openings from replacement needs, when combined with projected job openings from occupational growth, provide a more complete picture of the opportunities jobseekers will encounter in the coming decade than is provided by projected employment alone.

Replacement needs exist independently of growth. So if an occupation is projected to gain 1,000 new jobs, and 2,000 people who currently work in the occupation are expected to leave it over the next 10 years, then the total number of positions projected to be available to jobseekers is the sum of the two sources of openings, or 3,000.

Across the economy as a whole, job openings from replacement needs are projected to account for about twice as many openings as those from growth.6 This means that 2 out of every 3 job openings are expected to be for replacing workers who leave an occupation. (The replacement needs estimate does not include openings created when a worker changes jobs but remains in the same occupation.)

Education and training. As part of their projections research, BLS analysts assign typical entry-level education and training categories to each occupation. These education and training assignments are based on a review of available data, interviews with occupational experts and people who work in an occupation, and reading of specific job postings.

The education assignments published by BLS are based on the typical education needed to get an entry-level job in an occupation. As a complementary measure to education, an assignment to work experience and training categories also is made for each occupation. The work experience category indicates the number of years of work experience in a related occupation that are commonly considered necessary by employers. The training category indicates the typical on-the-job training needed for a worker to become fully competent performing the duties of an occupation. Together, these three measures—education, work experience, and on-the-job training—present a typical path to entry and competency.


5 For projections by detailed industry, see

6 For information on replacement needs, including detailed methods and data, see

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About the Author

Emily Richards

Emily Richards is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dave Terkanian

Dave Terkanian is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.