May 29, 2003
How accurate were the 1988-2000 employment outlooks that appeared in the 1990-91 Occupational Outlook Handbook?
The 1990-91 Handbook categorized projected occupational employment change between 1988 and 2000 with the following descriptors:
|Growth descriptor||Projected employment change|
|Much faster than average||increase 31 percent or more|
|Faster than average||increase 20 to 30 percent|
|About as fast as average||increase 11 to 19 percent|
|More slowly than average||increase 4 to 10 percent|
|Little or no change||increase or decrease 3 percent or less|
|Decline||decrease 4 percent or more|
Of 338 occupations, 87 had actual employment changes that matched the projected descriptor; another 100 had employment changes that were a single category higher or lower. There were 74 occupations with employment changes that were 2 categories away from the projection; 49 that were 3 categories away, and 16 that were 4 away. There were 12 occupations that had employment changes 5 categories away—occupations projected to grow much faster than average that actually declined, or vice-versa.
These data are from the BLS Employment Projections program, which produces the Occupational Outlook Handbook. More information on the accuracy of employment projections can be found in "The 1988-2000 Employment Projections: How accurate were they?" by Andrew Alpert and Jill Auyer, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2003.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Assessing the 1988-2000 employment growth projections at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2003/may/wk4/art03.htm (visited January 22, 2022).