NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Labor Forecast is Good

March 1, 2004

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just issued a new report on employment growth over the next decade. Prepared by the agency's career staff, it has an excellent record of forecasting industry and occupational trends. The good news is that most of the fastest rising occupations are well-paying jobs. The bad news is that those industries experiencing jobs losses in recent years will continue to shed workers, says Bruce Bartlett.

In the fastest rising category, jobs in the computer and health fields stand out:

  • Demand for medical assistants is expected to rise 59 percent by 2012 and that for network systems and data communications analysts will grow 57 percent.
  • Other health occupations expected to grow significantly are physician assistants (49 percent), home health aides (48 percent), medical records and health information technicians (47 percent) and physical therapist aides (46 percent).
  • Among computer-oriented jobs, the BLS expects these positions to grow most rapidly: computer software engineers (46 percent), database administrators (44 percent), computer systems analysts (39 percent) and network and computer systems administrators (37 percent).

Looking at the 30 fastest growing occupations, 13 are expected to pay wages in the top 25 percent of all workers and another 6 are in the second quartile. Thus two-thirds of the fastest growing jobs will pay above the median wage. Only 3 occupational categories fall into the lowest quartile.

In summary, the United States is expected to create more than enough jobs over the coming decade to hire everyone coming into the labor force. And many of the fastest growing occupations are among the best paying. But they also demand more education and training from those who get these jobs. Those with it will prosper; those without it are going to be left behind, says Bartlett.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Labor Forecast Is Good," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 1, 2004; based on 2002-12 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, February 11, 2004.

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