Where I mix career information and career decision making in a test tube and see what happens

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Employment Projections, Then and Now

Last month, the Employment Projections office of the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their projections for the period from 2012 to 2022, and I was interested to note how these projections differ from those that BLS made two years ago, for the period 2010 to 2020. Overall, the outlook is a little less rosy than it was in the last round of projections. The workforce as a whole is projected to grow by 10.8 percent; two years ago, the projection was 14.3 percent.

Two years ago, the nation was just starting to climb out of its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Apparently, the high hopes of that time have been scaled back somewhat.

Here is a table showing the changes in the outlook for the major groups of industries:

Industry Group
Projection  
2010-20
Percent)
Projection  
2012-22
(Percent)
Difference
Agriculture, forestry,
     fishing, and hunting
-3.6
-1.9
1.7
Mining, quarrying, and
     oil and gas extraction
3.8
15.1
11.3
Utilities
-6.5
-10.2
-3.7
Construction
33.3
28.8
-4.5
Wholesale trade
13.6
8.3
-5.3
Information
5.2
-2.4
-7.6
Finance and insurance
8.9
8.6
-0.3
Real estate and
     rental and leasing
14.2
12.8
-1.4
Professional, scientific,
     and technical services
28.7
23.1
-5.6
Management of companies
     and enterprises
5.5
2.6
-2.9
Administrative and
     support and waste
     management and remediation
21.3
20
-1.3
Educational services;
     State, local, and private
13.6
9.4
-4.2
Health care and
     social assistance
32.7
27.8
-4.9
Arts, entertainment,
     and recreation
17.8
11.1
-6.7
Accommodation and food
     services
9
9.1
0.1
Other services (except
     public administration)
13.5
10.5
-3
Government
1.6
-0.8
-2.4
Federal government
-12.5
-14.5
-2

The industry with the biggest change in outlook is Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction. It is expected to do much better than thought previously, thanks to the boom in oil and gas extraction. But it is the only industry with a major upward revision. Two other industries (Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting; and Accommodation and Food Services) have had very minor upward revisions to their projections.

All the other projections in this set have been revised downward. Of these, the most severe change is to the outlook for Information. Understand that this does not primarily mean information technology; rather, it refers to what is more commonly known as “the media”: publishing (including software publishing), news, and telecommunications. As someone working in the information industry, I can assure you that many jobs are being lost. Your local newspaper is much thinner these days than it was a decade ago, and this slimming-down is reflected in its staff roster.

The only other industry that actually went from positive to negative territory—that is, it was expected to expand modestly but now is expected to shrink—is Government. Keep this in mind the next time you hear a politician or commentator bloviating about how our government is growing too rapidly.

If you want to read about the revised forecasts for specific occupations, you are in luck: Tomorrow, the BLS will release the newest edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook on the Web. Over the next few days, I will be working intensively to repurpose this Web content as a printed reference for JIST Publishing, replacing the previous edition on the shelves of libraries and career counselors. (The print edition will include some bonus chapters that you can’t find on the Web.) Some new occupations that you’ll find in this forthcoming edition are Solar Photovoltaic Installers; Wind Turbine Technicians; Phlebotomists; and Fundraisers.

I have surveyed the career information publications of other countries, and I can attest that we are very lucky to have a resource as excellent as the OOH. Government is shrinking, and it gets a lot of bad press in certain quarters, but it still does some things very well.

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