December 2015

Industry employment and output projections to 2024

The health care and social assistance sector will account for over a third of the nation’s projected job growth from 2014 to 2024. The construction industry is projected to have the largest industry increase in employment, but construction employment is not expected to reach prerecession levels by 2024. Consistent with its decline over the past 10-year period, manufacturing employment is projected to continue to fall.

With this set of biennial 10-year projections, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) presents a view of an economy that is returning to a more consistent growth path, but the growth is slower than the long-term trends that existed prior to the Great Recession. The combination of a slowing of population growth, a continuation of longstanding trends of decreasing labor force participation, and a lower unemployment rate will result in employment growth slightly stronger from 2014 to 2024 than it was from 2004 to 2014. The earlier period included a major recession; the growth rate for the later period is slower than the prerecession growth rate. The service-providing sectors will account for the majority of the projected job growth. Employment growth in the two largest service-producing sectors—health care and social assistance and professional and business services—will continue to be strong. In the goods-producing sectors, employment will be driven by growth in construction.

BLS projections focus on long-term trends. This focus is accomplished by making certain underlying assumptions. The most important is that the economy will be at or near full employment in the final year of the projection period. The projections do not account for any shocks that might cause the economy to fall into a recession or become overheated; shocks, such as political conflict or changes in taxes or laws, can significantly affect the economy. Within this context, this article looks at employment and output projections for North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industries during the 2014–24 period. Major sectors—hereafter referred to as “sectors”—are an aggregate of individual industries. Because the projections are for a 10-year period, the article compares the projected changes with those that took place during the previous 10-year period.

BLS projects that total employment1 in 2024 will reach 160.3 million, an increase from 2014 of almost 9.8 million jobs. This growth represents a 0.6-percent average annual rate of growth,2 which is faster than the 0.4-percent annual rate of growth experienced from 2004 to 2014. The majority of the increase in employment, over 95 percent, is among nonagricultural wage and salary workers. Their job count is projected to increase from 139.8 million in 2014 to 149.1 million in 2024, an increase of over 9.3 million jobs.3 This increase is larger than the more than 7.3 million that were added from 2004 to 2014. The 2014–24 increase, on average 0.6 percent per year, is projected to be larger than the 0.5-percent annual growth from 2004 to 2014. Agricultural workers are projected to lose 110,500 jobs—an annual decrease of 0.5 percent—from 2014 to 2024, bringing their employment level down to just over 2.0 million jobs. This decrease far exceeds the slight increase in agricultural jobs during the 2004–14 time frame. By the end of that period, agricultural jobs totaled over 2.1 million as 26,900 jobs had been added at an annual rate of 0.1 percent. Nonagricultural self-employed jobs are projected to increase from almost 8.6 million in 2014 to nearly 9.2 million in 2024. The increase of 579,300 jobs, occurring at an annual rate of 0.7 percent, is smaller than the decline of 883,400 in self-employment from 2004 to 2014. (See table 1.)


1 Total employment is the summation of the employment level of nonagricultural wage and salary workers; agricultural, forestry, fishing, and hunting workers; and self-employed workers. Nonagricultural wage and salary employment data are from the BLS Current Employment Survey (CES), except for private household employment data, which are provided by the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS also provides the data for self-employed workers and agricultural, forestry, fishing, and hunting workers.

2 Compounded annual rate of growth.

3 Nonagricultural wage and salary employment data are from the Current Employment Survey (CES), except for private household employment data, which are from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Logging workers are excluded.

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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, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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