May 28, 2003
How accurate were BLS projections for employment in health care occupations for the 1988-2000 period?
One way to approach this question is to look at the seven largest health care occupations (defined here as those with employment exceeding a quarter of a million in 2000). In one case, the actual growth in employment was much higher than projected and in another case the actual growth was somewhat higher; in three cases, the projection was a bit above actual growth, and in two, the projection was quite close.
The number of personal care and home health aides had been projected to grow 63 percent over the period; it actually grew 134 percent, which made it the third-fastest growing of all occupations. Employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians had been projected to grow by 19 percent; it increased by 34 percent.
The number of nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants increased by 18 percent, short of the 32 percent projection. Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses increased by 14 percent, below the 37 percent that had been projected. The increase in the number of physicians was 10 percent, compared with a projection of 28 percent.
The medical assistant occupation had been projected to grow by 70 percent from 1988 to 2000—their numbers actually grew by 77 percent. There was an increase between 1988 and 2000 of 34 percent in the number of registered nurses, compared with the 39 percent that had been projected.
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, in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2003.