January 07, 2004
The 1988–2000 BLS employment projections for 338 occupations were evaluated for the accuracy of the projections. Overall the projections were reasonably accurate.
For example, in 2000 the actual employment of general managers and top executives, at 3,539,000, was less than 1 percent off from the projected level.
Several other large occupations—for example, truckdrivers, office clerks, janitors and cleaners, and retail salespersons—had projection errors of less than 10 percent.
The projection for cashiers missed the mark by more. Employment of cashiers was projected to grow only about as fast as the average for all occupations. In actuality, employment grew much faster than average.
In one instance, an occupation projected to be among those adding the most jobs actually declined over the projection period. Secretaries, except legal and medical, were projected to add 385,000 new jobs, but employment declined by 59,000.
Improvements in office technology made secretaries more productive and also led to managers themselves performing more routine office work.
These data are from the BLS Employment Projections program, which develops information about the labor market for the Nation as a whole for 10 years in the future. Note that the chart features the 7 largest occupations based on actual employment in 2000. Current projections can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. For more on assessing the 1988-2000 projections, see "Evaluating the BLS 1988–2000 employment projections" by Andrew Alpert and Jill Auyer, Monthly Labor Review, October 2003.