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A look at occupational employment trends to the year 2000.

A look at occupational employment trends to the year 2000

The Nation's economy is projected to generate more than 21 million jobs between 1986 and 2000. While a considerable number, this 19-percent increase is only about half the average annual rate of increase that occurred over the previous 14-year period, 1972 to 1986. (See table 1.) An accompanying article by Valerie Personick, pp. 30-45, discusses the projected changes in the industrial composition of employment. Our article presents the 1986-2000 occupational projections.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has developed three sets of occupational projections, with each set tied to the high, moderate, or low economic and industry employment projections alternatives presented elsewhere in this issue of the Review. However, the basic changes in the occupational structure of the economy from 1986 to 2000 among the three alternatives are similar. Thus, for ease of presentation, we focus on the moderate alternative, because the discussion would be similar if either of the other scenarios was highlighted. The major differences among the alternatives are discussed briefly at the end of the article.

Broad occupational group changes

The structure of occupational employment over the 1986-2000 period is expected to shift because the change in total employment will not be evenly distributed among the broad occupational groups. For example, each of the three broad occupational groups with the most highly trained workers in terms of educational attainment (executive, administrative, and managerial workers; professional workers; and technicians and related support workers) is projected to continue to grow more rapidly than the average for total employment. Collectively, these three groups, which accounted for 25 percent of total employment in 1986, are expected to account for almost 40 percent of the total job growth between 1986 and 2000. In contrast, many factors, such as office and factory automation, changes in consumer demand, and import substitution are expected to lead to relatively slow growth or a decline for occupational groups requiring less education (administrative support workers, including clerical; farming, forestry, and fishing workers; and operators, fabricators, and laborers). The service workers group (except private household workers), which is expected to grow at a faster rate than total employment and account for more of the total growth in employment than any other broad occupational group, is an important exception to the general trend, because its educational attainment is not in the high group. The expected shift away from low-skill jobs to high-skill jobs is discussed in greater detail later in this article. The following discussion on each broad occupational group is based on data found in table 1. Historical trends in table 1 are based on data from the Current Population Survey, whereas projected trends are based on data from the National Industry-Occupation Matrix. In order to compare data from both sources in table 1, the occupational categories from the Current Population Survey were selected. Table 8 also is based on the Current Population Survey occupational categories and data. In all other tables in this article, the National Industry-Occupation Matrix occupational classification and data were used.

Employment of executive, administrative, and managerial workers is expected to increase by more than 3 million jobs from 1986 to 2000 due to the ever-increasing complexity of business operations and the large employment gains in the wholesale and retail trade and services sectors. The rate of increase for this group is expected to be about 29 percent, or about one and one-half the average for all occupations. The relative growth rate for this occupational group is projected to be less than it was from 1972 to 1986 when executive, administrative, and managerial workers grew twice as fast as did total employment.

The number of professional workers is expected to continue to grow more rapidly than total employment, or by 27 percent, from 1986 to 2000. Employment in many of the occupations in this group is expected to surge, including the engineering, computer specialty, and health professional occupations, which together are expected to account for more than one-half of the 3.7 million new professional jobs added by the year 2000.

Employment in the technicians and related support workers category is projected to grow faster than any other major occupational group (38 percent), or more than twice as fast as total employment. The technicians occupational group also was the fastest growing group from 1972 to 1986. Jobs for health technologists and technicians are expected to account for 47 percent of the 1.4 million new technician jobs that will be added over the 1986-2000 period.

Employment in the salesworkers group is expected to increase by 30 percent, or by 3.7 million jobs, due mainly to the large employment gains in wholesale and retail trade where salesworkers are concentrated. The share of total employment accounted for by these workers is projected to increase from 11.3 percent of the total in 1986 to 12.3 percent by the year 2000. This is the only major occupational group that grew as fast during the 1979-86 period as it did from 1972 to 1979, even though total employment had grown only half as fast in the latter period.

The number of administrative support workers, including clerical, which grew as fast as total employment in the 1972-86 period, is projected to increase significantly more slowly than the average for total employment from 1986 to 2000, or by only 11 percent. This slowing of growth was evident in the 1979-86 period when this occupational group grew slightly slower than the average for total employment; in the previous 7 years it had grown slightly faster than total employment. Although this group is projected to add 2 million jobs by the year 2000, its share of total employment is expected to decline from 17.8 percent to 16.6 percent because of its slow growth. Office automation and other technological changes are expected to cause employment to decline in several detailed occupations within this group, such as typists and word processors. Employment in several clerical occupations, however, is projected to grow faster than the average for total employment due to rapid growth in the industries that employ clerical workers such as hotel desk clerks and new account clerks in banking. Other occupations in this group are also expected to be favorably affected by technological change, such as the computer and peripheral equipment operators group, which is expected to grow rapidly due to the ever-increasing use of computers throughout the economy.

Employment in the service workers group (except private household workers) is expected to rise faster than the average for total employment, increasing by more than 5 million jobs--more than any other broad occupational group from 1986 to 2000. The projected growth rate of 33 percent for 1986-2000 is faster than total employment and, consequently, the share of total employment accounted for by service workers is expected to jump from 14.8 percent in 1986 to 16.5 percent in 2000. Most of the large projected employment gain in this occupational group is concentrated in food service and health service occupations.

The number of private household workers is projected to decline by 2.7 percent. This is more in line with the recent moderate decline that occurred between 1979 and 1986 than it is with the rapid declines that occurred from 1972 to 1979 and in earlier periods.

The number of precision production, craft, and repair workers is projected to increase more slowly than the average for total employment, or by only 12 percent. From 1972 to 1986, employment in this group grew about as fast as the average for total employment, although during the latter part of the 1979-86 period, its employment growth was slower than that for the total economy. Within this group, the rate of growth for the construction trades is projected to be close to the 19-percent growth rate of the overall economy. This increase is expected to be offset, however, by occupations concentrated in manufacturing that are expected to grow more slowly than the average for total employment or to decline over the 1986-2000 period. Employment decreases are expected in occupations such as precision food, metal, printing textile, and apparel workers.

Employment in the operators, fabricators, and laborers group is projected to be at virtually the same level in 2000 as it was in 1986. The stable employment level for this occupational group is a reversal of the decline of more than 9 percent that this group suffered from 1979 to 1986, which offset an approximately equal increase from 1972 to 1979. Its share of total employment is expected to decrease significantly from 14.6 percent to 12.6 percent. The drop in manufacturing employment and increasing factory automation are largely responsible for the lack of employment growth for this group. Several transportation occupations, however, are not expected to be affected by these factors, including the truck and bus drivers and aircraft pilots and flight engineers occupations.

The number of farming, forestry, and fishing workers is projected to decrease 5 percent between 1986 and 2000. This represents a continuation of a very long-term decline, but nevertheless a slowing of the rate of decline that occurred during the previous 14 years.

Trends by industry

Occupational projections were developed through the use of an industry-occupation employment matrix. The 1986 matrix used as the base year of the projections presents the occupational structure of 258 detailed industries. These data were derived primarily from the Bureau's Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, which obtains data on the occupational staffing patterns of industries.1 The 1986 occupational structure of each industry was projected to 2000 through analysis of the factors that are expected to change the structure, such as changes in technology, business practices and methods of operation, and product demand. The projected structure was then applied to projections of total employment for each industry described in Personick's article. To derive the projections of total employment by occupation, the detailed cells of the matrix were aggregated across all industries.2

Table 2, derived from the National Industry-Occupation Matrix, shows the absolute and percent changes in employment between 1986 and 2000 for major occupational groups by major industry division. More than 80 percent of the rise in total employment is projected to occur among wage and salary workers in wholesale and retail trade and in services. Increases in the number of marketing and sales and service workers are expected to account for almost half of the employment gains in these two industry divisions. This is as one would expect because of the high concentration of these two groups. What is not so obvious, however, is the impact that these two divisions may have on other occupational groups. For example, employment gains in wholesale and retail trade and services are expected to account for nearly all of the job growth for the teachers, librarians, and counselors occupation and workers in the health diagnosing and treating occupation;3 82 percent of the growth for the technicians occupation; 66 percent of the increase in the scientists and computer specialists occupation; 65 percent of the rise in the other professionals occupation; and 58 percent of the growth in managers. Except for teachers in services, each of these occupational groups has a projected growth rate that is faster than that projected for total employment in the trade and services divisions.

Although most of the total employment change is projected to occur in trade and services, several other industry divisions have notable changes. Finance, insurance, and real estate is projected to account for 8 percent of the growth in total employment or 1.6 million jobs. Most of the growth in this industry division is expected to occur among workers in managerial and management-related occupations and workers in administrative support, including clerical workers. The increase in the number of clerical workers is projected to exceed that of managers within the finance, insurance, and real estate division. However, the overall rate of growth for clerical occupations is less than that for managers due to office automation in banking, credit reporting agencies, and insurance.

Another industry division adding significant numbers of jobs is construction, which accounts for 4 percent of the growth in total jobs (891,000). Nearly half of this industry's growth is expected to occur among the construction trades and extractive occupations.

Government (excluding State and local government employees in education and hospitals) is projected to account for 4 percent of total employment growth (811,000 jobs); this increase is expected to occur mainly among State and local government service workers, such as police and fire-fighters. Also noteworthy in government is the projected loss of 45,000 jobs among administrative support workers, including clerical. This loss is largely due to projected declines in typists, stenographers, payroll and timekeeping clerks, and statistical clerks.

The manufacturing industry division is projected to decrease by more than 800,000 jobs. The largest employment declines in manufacturing are projected to be for machine setters, set-up operators, operators, and tenders; assemblers and other handwork occupations; administrative support workers, including clerical; helpers, laborers, and material movers, hand; and transportation and material moving machine and vehicle operators. Many of the detailed occupations in these groups are expected to be affected by automation and a decrease in demand for the products of industries in which they are concentrated because of changes in consumer tastes, shifts in governmental priorities, and increases in foreign competition. Despite the drop in employment, some occupational groups within manufacturing are expected to grow. The group with the largest job increase is engineers (165,000), followed by managers (85,000) and technicians (70,000).

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing division has a projected increase in employment among wage and salary workers, but if self-employed agriculture workers are included, the industry shows a decrease.

The number of self-employed workers and unpaid family workers combined is projected to increase by 12.2 percent, from 9.8 million in 1986 to 10.9 million in the year 2000. This estimate refers to both nonfarm and agricultural industries. All of this growth is expected to occur among self-employed workers, because jobs for unpaid family workers are projected to decline by a quarter of a million. For self-employed workers and unpaid family workers combined, sales occupations are expected to account for 560,000 of the total increase of 1.2 million jobs. The occupational group expected to add the next largest number of self-employed and unpaid family worker jobs is managers and management-related workers (356,000), followed by service workers (176,000), and construction trades and extractive workers (167,000).

Trends for occupational clusters

The Bureau has developed projections for 480 detailed occupations, which are grouped into clusters that conform to the Standard Occupational Classification system. (See table 3.) These clusters are discussed in terms of employment change, factors affecting change, and significant detailed occupational components. The occupational groups in this section below are based on the occupational classification used in the National Industry-Occupation Matrix. They differ somewhat from previously discussed groups based on the Current Population Survey, which is the only source of comparable occupational employment data for the entire 1972-86 period.

Managerial and management-related accupations. Several managerial occupations are expected to grow rapidly from 1986 to 2000 due to the increasing complexity of business operations and the large employment gains in trade and service industries where, because of small firm size, a higher than average proportion of employment is in management occupations. For example, the number of employment interviewers, private or public employment service, is projected to increase by 71 percent, largely as a result of the rapid growth of the personnel supply services industry, which has many small establishments. Other managerial occupations projected to grow rapidly because of large employment gains in industries where the occupations are concentrated include insurance underwriters (34 percent), property and real estate managers (39 percent), and loan officers and counselors (34 percent). However, not all occupations in the managerial group will fare as well. Employment for purchasing managers; purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products; and wholesale and retail buyers is expected to grow more slowly than total employment due to the computerization of purchasing tasks and more efficient purchasing methods. Other occupations with low projected growth rates are in Federal, State, and local governments, which are not expected to grow as fast as the overall economy; these occupations include postmasters and mail superintendents, public administrators, and construction and building inspectors.

Engineers, architects, and surveyors. The electrical engineers occupation is projected to have the largest employment gain (192,000 jobs) and the most rapid increase (48 percent) in this cluster. Most of the increase is expected to occur in industries such as communications equipment, computers, and other electronics equipment manufacturing. The need to remain competitive will require an increasing number of these engineers to update product designs, explore more cost-efficient ways of producing goods, and develop new products.

The mechanical engineers occupation is projected to have the next largest employment gain (76,000 jobs) and the second most rapid increase (33 percent) among occupations in the engineers, architects, and surveyors group. Most of the employment increase is expected in manufacturing because of increasing product design requirements. Other sources of demand for mechanical engineers include services, such as engineering and architectural services, miscellaneous business services, and temporary help supply services. Construction and government industries are expected to employ an increasing number of mechanical engineers as well. The number of civil engineers, including traffic engineers is projected to increase by 50,000 jobs (25 percent), based on the need to improve the highway system and other large-scale construction projects in the economic infrastructure. Also, the number of industrial engineers, except safety engineers, is projected to increase by 35,000 workers (30 percent) as industry seeks to improve its efficiency through the introduction of new production techniques, such as integrated manufacturing systems. The architects, except landscape and marine, occupation is projected to gain 25,000 jobs (30 percent) because of increased demand for office buildings, apartment buildings, and residential housing. Computer-assisted design equipment will allow architects to provide more flexible services by producing variations in design more easily.

Natural, computer, and mathematical scientists. The computer systems analysts occupation is expected to have the largest employment gain (251,000 jobs) and the fastest growth (76 percent) of any occupation within this job cluster. Close to half the employment gain for computer systems analysts is projected to occur in the computer and data processing services industry. The remaining increase will be scattered throughout the economy as computers continue to be used more intensively by an ever-expanding number of industries and firms. New business and defense computer applications will continue to be prime sources of demand. The number of operations and systems researchers is projected to grow very rapidly (54 percent) due to the increased importance of quantitative analysis throughout industries.

The number of life scientists is expected to grow 21 percent, or by 30,000 jobs, from 1986 to 2000. The government and health services industries are expected to employ increasing numbers of life scientists as genetic research expands into such areas as new medicines, plant and animal variations, and diagnostic techniques for genetic defects. Employment of physical scientists is to increase moderately at 13 percent, with 24,000 jobs added due to military and private research and development. Employment opportunities are expected to open up in laser research, high-energy physics, and other areas of advanced science.

Teachers, librarians, and counselors. This group of occupations is projected to grow about as fast as the average for total employment and add about 772,000 jobs. However, not all detailed occupations within this cluster are expected to have the same growth rate due to differing trends in the cohorts that comprise school-age youth in different levels of education. Employment for preschool teachers, for example, is projected to increase faster than total employment, or by 36 percent, because of the increased demand by working parents for child daycare services. The number of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for total employment; this growth is because of rising enrollments that reflect the increase in births beginning in the late 1970's from the "echo' effect of the post-World War II baby boom. Employment for secondary teachers, however, is expected to grow more slowly than the average for total employment due to the small projected increase in enrollments from 1986 to 2000. The number of college and university faculty is projected to decrease by 4 percent because of the decline in college enrollments projected through 2000. Employment in the professional librarians occupation is expected to grow just slightly less than total employment, or by 13 percent; while the duties of librarians have become heavily automated, their work still requires extensive judgment. The number of counselors in education is projected to grow by 21 percent, as their duties are expected to extend beyond academic counseling into such areas as family relations and substance abuse.

Health diagnosing and treating occupations. Employment for health professionals is expected to grow rapidly (42 percent), adding over 1 million jobs by 2000. Job growth in the health industries where these workers are employed is projected to be among the fastest in the economy, except for the hospital industry, which is projected to grow more slowly than total employment. A variety of health practitioner occupations in the health industries are projected to grow faster than the average for total employment, including physical therapists (87 percent), optometrists (49 percent), and speech pathologists and audiologists (34 percent).

The projections show 2 million registered nurses in 2000, an increase of more than 600,000 jobs. The demand for registered nurses is expected to be particularly strong in hospitals, where, in response to cost-containment pressures, nurses will assume some of the duties previously performed by other health personnel. The number of registered nurses is projected to grow rapidly in physicians' offices, due to the increasing size of physician practices and more sophisticated medical technology, and also in nursing and personal care facilities to care for patients who are expected to have shorter stays in hospitals.

Employment for physicians and surgeons is projected to grow rapidly (38 percent), adding 188,000 jobs. Employment for physician assistants, a relatively small occupation, is projected to grow much faster than that of physicians. In addition, health maintenance organizations and other group practices are expected to use physician assistants to a greater degree.

Other professional workers. Most other professional occupations are expected to have average or above-average growth rates by 2000. Employment for lawyers is expected to grow about twice as fast as total employment, or by 36 percent, because of projected strong demand for legal services by individuals and businesses. Employment of social workers is expected to rise 33 percent due to the increased demand for social workers as mental health counselors and therapists.

Technicians. Health services, computer applications, research and development, and legal services will be areas of the economy where technician occupations are projected to experience large employment gains. The increase in employment for health technicians and technologists is expected to account for about half of the increase for total technicians--663,000 of the 1,403,000 jobs. The health technicians and technologists group contains occupations with duties ranging from cleaning teeth to administering electrocardiographs. The licensed practical nurses occupation is expected to have the largest numerical increase (238,000 jobs) among the health technicians, with many of these employed in nursing and personal care facilities that are expected to grow in response to an aging population. The radiologic technologists and technicians occupation is expected to have the second largest increase (75,000 jobs), with gains mainly in offices of physicians and in hospitals. The number of medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is expected to increase by 57,000 jobs throughout the health industries and the number of dental hygienists is projected to increase by 54,000 jobs.

Employment for computer programmers is expected to grow rapidly by 70 percent, adding 335,000 jobs. Despite more effective programming tools, demand for software is expected to spur the growth because of the ever-expanding range of new applications for computers. Close to one-half of the job increase for computer programmers is expected to occur in the computer and data processing services industry. The remaining job increases for programmers are expected to be found throughout the economy.

The engineering and science technicians and technologists group is expected to gain 285,000 jobs. These workers are expected to realize healthy job gains in trade, services, and manufacturing. They perform testing, diagnose complicated problems with equipment, and assist scientists and engineers in research and development.

The paralegal personnel occupation is projected to be the fastest growing technician occupation and the fastest growing occupation overall, increasing by 104 percent. (See table 4.) Nearly all of its employment gain is expected in legal services where the paralegal workers assist lawyers.

Marketing and salesworkers. A rapid projected growth rate for the real estate industry is expected to have a favorable impact on employment for brokers (increasing by 44 percent) and appraisers (increasing by 41 percent). Other sales occupations that are expected to grow rapidly are travel agents (46 percent) and securities and financial services salesworkers (42 percent). The largest detailed occupation in the group--salespersons, retail--is projected to grow 34 percent and add more jobs than any other detailed occupation (1.2 million jobs by 2000). (See table 5.)

Administrative support occupations, including clerical. Office automation and other technological changes are projected to result in employment declines in several clerical occupations, including typists and word processors (14 percent); stenographers (28 percent); payroll and timekeeping clerks (12 percent); telephone central office operators (18 percent); telephone directory assistance operators (18 percent); procurement clerks (13 percent); data entry keyers, except composing (16 percent); and statistical clerks (26 percent). Other clerical occupations, however, are expected to increase because of rapid growth rates in the industries employing them or because of the difficulty in automating their duties. The number of real estate clerks, for example, is expected to grow by 39 percent; hotel desk clerks by 43 percent; brokerage clerks by 28 percent; receptionists and information clerks by 41 percent; and interviewing clerks, except personnel and social welfare, by 45 percent. Furthermore, certain clerical occupations are expected to grow as a result of being favorably affected by technological change. The rising use of computers throughout the economy is expected to spur the demand for computer operators and peripheral electronic data processing equipment operators; these occupations are projected to grow by 47 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Also, the data keyers, composing, occupation is projected to grow by 51 percent, a result of the increasing use of computerized typesetting technology.

Service workers. This group is projected to have several rapidly growing occupations and add large numbers of new jobs. Near the top of the list are several health service occupations. The medical assistant occupation, with a growth rate of 90 percent, is projected to be one of the fastest growing occupations from 1986 to 2000 because of the growing acceptance of those workers as a cost-effective way to provide both clinical and clerical support to physicians and other health professionals. The number of home health aides is projected to grow by 80 percent due to a number of factors, mainly the growing elderly population and the continuation of the trend to provide medical care outside of the traditional hospital setting.

Other health service occupations with rapid projected rates of growth over the 1986-2000 period include physical and corrective therapy assistants (82 percent) and dental assistants (57 percent). Employment for nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants is projected to grow by 35 percent, adding 433,000 jobs by 2000; much of the employment growth of these workers is expected in the rapidly expanding nursing and personal care industry. In the slower growing hospital industry, however, employment in this occupation is expected to decline by 62,000 jobs due to cost-cutting efforts.

Employment for food preparation and service occupations is projected to grow by 37 percent, increasing by 2.6 million jobs. These workers are concentrated in eating and drinking places. This industry is projected to have the largest numerical job growth of all the industries in the economy from 1986 to 2000--nearly 2.5 million additional jobs. Occupational employment growth ranges from 17 percent for institution or cafeteria cooks to 46 percent for restaurant cooks.

The protective service workers group is projected to grow by 31 percent, or by 645,000 jobs. Within this group, the largest and most rapidly growing occupation is guards, with a projected increase of 48 percent. Their growth is expected to occur mainly in the protective services industry as more and more firms choose to contract out for protective services.

Another large service occupation with a sizable employment increase is janitors and cleaners (604,000 jobs), although the growth rate for the occupation will be about the average for the economy. More and more firms also are expected to contract out for janitorial services, rather than using their own employees for this work.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing workers. Although this group as a whole is projected to have an employment decline of 163,000 jobs, several detailed occupations are projected to have significant employment increases. The most important of these increases is for the gardeners and groundskeepers, except farm, occupation that is projected to gain nearly 240,000 jobs largely because of growth in lawn services and landscaping services for both individuals and businesses.

Occupations in farming are projected to account for most of the employment decline in this group. Employment for farmers is expected to decline by 332,000 jobs as small farms continue to be consolidated into larger ones. However, the process of farm consolidation is projected to lead to an increase in the number of jobs (47,000) for farm managers. Employment for farm workers is expected to decrease by almost 200,000 jobs as farming methods and equipment improve.

Blue-collar worker supervisors. The blue-collar worker supervisors occupation is expected to gain 144,000 jobs, an increase of only 8 percent. This slow growth rate is due mainly to the projected employment decline in manufacturing. However, small employment gains are expected in some manufacturing industries, including plastics, electronics, and commercial printing. Most of the growth in the blue-collar worker supervisors occupation is expected to occur outside manufacturing, especially in construction and services.

Construction trades and extractive workers. Employment for carpenters is projected to grow by about 18 percent, or by 182,000 jobs--the largest numerical increase among occupations in this cluster. Close to one-third of the gain is expected to occur among self-employed carpenters. The residential building and nonresidential carpentering and flooring industries are expected to add the bulk of the remaining jobs.

Employment in the electricians occupation is projected to grow by 89,000 jobs. Most of the increase is expected to occur in construction, which will more than offset job losses projected for electricians in manufacturing.

Employment for painters and paperhangers (construction and maintenance) is projected to increase by 90,000 jobs. More than 40 percent of this increase is expected among self-employed painters and paperhangers. The wage and salary worker increase is projected to occur in the construction, real estate, and services sectors.

Employment in the plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters occupation is projected to have an increase of 69,000 jobs, mainly occurring in construction.

Mechanics, installers, and repairers. The general utility maintenance repairers occupation is projected to have the largest job gain (232,000 jobs) within this job cluster, although the growth of 22 percent will be the same as that for total employment. A large part of the increase is expected in real estate and services, such as business services, hotels, nursing care, and education. Employment for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engineers is projected to grow by 63,000 jobs due to employment gains in trucking, repair services, and trade. Employment in the data processing equipment repairers group is projected to increase by 56,000 jobs, or 80 percent, the largest percentage increase of any occupation in the mechanics, installers, and repairers group. Most of the increase is expected in the machinery and equipment wholesale trade industry and in the computer and data processing services industry.

The number of automotive mechanics is projected to grow by 60,000 jobs, an increase of only 8 percent. This modest rate of increase is due to a decline in repair work done in gasoline service stations and from better design and workmanship in automobiles.

Precision production and plant system operators. The precision production and plant systems operators group is projected to experience little growth through the year 2000. The precision woodworkers occupation is expected to add 30,000 of the 134,000 new jobs for the group; the dental laboratory technicians and sheet metal workers occupations are expected to add 18,000 jobs and 19,000 jobs, respectively. The number of machinists is projected to drop by 5,000 jobs. Shoe and leather workers and repairers are expected to be one of the most rapidly declining occupations (17 percent) due to the projected declines in the shoe and leather industries.

Machine setters, set-up operators, operators, and tenders. This occupational group is projected to have the largest job decline, down 194,000 jobs. Employment for garment sewing machine operators is expected to decline by 14 percent, or by 92,000 jobs, as a result of the impact of technology and foreign imports on employment in the apparel industry. Other occupations expected to decline include textile drawout and winding machine operators (55,000 jobs); chemical equipment controllers and operators (22,000 jobs); and machine tool cutters, operators, and tenders (19,000 jobs). However, several occupations in this group are in industries that are growing and are expected to make modest gains: plastic molding machine operators and tenders (36,000 jobs), laundry and dry cleaning machine operators and tenders (31,000 jobs), and offset lithographic press setters and operators (23,000 jobs).

Assemblers and other handwork occupations. Employment in this group as a whole is projected to decline by 113,000 jobs as many tasks of the workers are automated. The increasing use of industrial robots, for example, is expected to cause electrical and electronic assemblers to be the fastest declining occupation with a projected loss of 54 percent (table 6) and to cause a more modest 7-percent decline for welders and cutters. The impact of technological change is expected to be less severe on precision assemblers as a group because current robots, which are expected to be used on a large scale in the 1990's, are not capable of performing more complex assembly tasks. The employment of precision assemblers, therefore, is expected to remain virtually unchanged from 1986 to 2000.

Transportation and material moving occupations. Employment in many occupations in this group is expected to decrease between 1986 to 2000 due to declining industry employment and technological changes. The railroad industry, for example, is expected to lose about 190,000 jobs, causing the number of rail transportation workers to drop by 37 percent. The number of water transportation workers is expected to decline by 8 percent as a result of the projected employment losses in the water transportation industries.

The greater use of automated materials handling equipment in factories and warehouses is projected to cause employment in the industrial truck and tractor operators occupation to decrease by about 34 percent. Employment in the truck drivers occupation, however, is projected to grow by 21 percent, increasing by more than half a million jobs between 1986 and 2000. Other occupations expected to have average growth rates include bus drivers, parking lot attendants, excavation and loading machine operators, grading machine operators, and operating engineers. The aircraft pilots and flight engineers occupation is projected to increase faster than the average for total employment, or by 29 percent.

Helpers, laborers, and hand material movers. Occupations in this group are generally expected to grow more slowly than the average for total employment except for the refuse collectors occupation, which is projected to have an average rate of growth through the year 2000. Declines in the machine feeders and offbearers occupation (6 percent) and freight, stock, and material movers occupation (2 percent) are expected as a result of technological changes.

Low and high projections

The distribution of employment by broad occupational group varies little among the projected alternatives for 2000 because of offsetting changes within the broad occupational groups. (See table 7.) In specific occupations, however, some significant differences may exist between the moderate and either the low or high alternatives. The differences in occupational employment from one alternative to another are caused only by differences in projected industry employment levels, because the same set of occupational staffing patterns were used for all alternatives. Total employment in the moderate trend projections varies by only about 4 percent from the high alternative and about 6 percent from the low alternative. Therefore, the greatest numerical differences for specific occupations exist between the low alternative projected employment and the moderate trend employment; the following text tabulation shows these differences:

Uses and implications

BLS occupational projections are used extensively for career guidance and provide the background for analyses of future employment opportunities in the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. Job outlook discussions in the 1988-89 edition of the Handbook, scheduled for release in the spring of 1988, will use the projections presented in this article. These projections also provide information for analyzing a variety of issues, including the relation of education and training to job opportunities and labor market conditions for minority groups.

Educational attainment. Much has been written to indicate that the changing occupational structure of employment implies the need for a more highly educated work force. To see if the 1986-2000 occupational projections substantiate this view, the occupational clusters discussed previously were divided into three groups. Group I includes the clusters in which at least two-thirds of the workers in 1986 had 1 or more years of college. Group II includes the clusters in which the median years of school completed was greater than 12 and the proportion of those workers with less than a high school education was relatively low. Group III includes occupational clusters where the proportion of workers having less than a high school education was relatively high--more than 30 percent. Given that workers in any occupational cluster have a broad range of educational background, these three groups can only be based on the educational level of the majority of workers. Obviously, workers are employed in each of the groups at each of the educational levels.

The distribution of total employment in 1986 and projected 2000 employment for these three groups of educational attainment is shown in table 8. These data indicate that employment in the occupations requiring the most education, group I, is projected to increase as a proportion of total employment, while employment in the other two groups in which workers had less education will decline as a proportion of total employment. The proportion of total employment is expected to decline the most in group III, the group which requires the least amount of education. It should be noted that the service workers group--the only occupational cluster in the educational attainment group III with median school years completed above 12 years--is increasing as a proportion of total employment. All other occupational clusters in this group are declining (some by very significant amounts). Conversely, in group I, all the clusters are increasing as a percent of total employment except for the teachers, librarians, and counselors occupation.

Minority groups. Job opportunities for individuals or groups of workers are determined by a multitude of factors relating to the job market and the characteristics of workers. Consequently, in developing projections of employment by industry and occupation, BLS does not develop projections of the demographic composition of those jobs. However, data on the current demographic composition of jobs can be used in conjunction with projected change in employment to determine the implications of the employment projections. For example, projections can be used to see if future job growth is consistent with the labor market pattern for jobs currently held by blacks and Hispanics.

Blacks and Hispanics accounted for about 10 percent and 7 percent of employment in 1986, respectively. Although members of these two groups were employed in virtually every occupation, they were more heavily concentrated in certain occupational clusters. These occupational clusters are listed in decreasing order by projected growth rate in table 9. In general, the data show that both blacks and Hispanics account for a greater proportion of persons employed in the occupations that are projected to decline or grow more slowly than in those occupations that are projected to increase rapidly. It should be pointed out that the occupational clusters projected to decline or grow slowly are generally those requiring the least amount of education and training and those projected to grow the fastest require the most education and training. The only exception is the service workers cluster, which, as discussed previously, is growing rapidly.

In general, occupations having the fastest growth rates can be assumed to have the better opportunities for employment. For blacks and Hispanics to improve their labor market situation, they must be able to take advantage of those opportunities. The labor force projections discussed in the article by Howard Fullerton, pp. 19-29, indicate that blacks and Hispanics will make up 17.4 percent and 28.7 percent of the total labor force growth, respectively. Because, as noted earlier, the fastest growing occupations are those in which a high percentage of workers currently have post-secondary education, the data imply that improvements in educational attainment are important if blacks and Hispanics are to take advantage of the favorable job opportunities associated with these rapidly growing occupations.

The proportion of women employed in certain occupational clusters varies among the clusters. In general, however, women account for relatively high proportions of employment in the faster growing occupations with two exceptions. For natural scientists and computer specialists, the women's share of employment currently is low and the proportion of women employed as engineers, architects, and surveyors is very low (7 percent). Women tend to account for smaller proportions in the occupations projected to decline or grow slowly, except for the proportion of women employed as machine setters and operators.

In summary, occupations requiring the most education and training are projected to grow more rapidly than total employment. Women currently represent larger proportions of employment in those occupations than blacks and Hispanics. Therefore, among the three minority groups, employment opportunities for women are expected to be the most favorable.

1 Data from the 1983, 1984, and 1985 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) surveys, the most current for each industry in the economy when the projections were developed, were used to develop 1986 occupational staffing patterns for industries covered by the matrix. Staffing patterns for other industries were derived from the 1986 Current Population Survey. For more information concerning the development of the National Industry-Occupation Matrix, see Employment Projections for 1995: Data and Methods, Bulletin 2253 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1986). For more information concerning the OES survey program, see BLS Handbook of Methods, Bulletin 2134-1 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 1982).

2 The 1986 and projected 2000 occupational distributions in each of the 258 detailed matrix industries were multiplied by estimates of total wage and salary worker employment in each year. Estimates of self-employed and unpaid family workers by occupation for 1986 and projected 2000 were developed at the total (all industry) level based on data in the Current Population Survey. They were added to the sum of wage and salary worker employment to derive estimates of 1986 and projected 2000 total employment by occupation for the economy.

3 In the National Industry-Occupation Matrix, State and local government workers in education and health service industries are included in the services industry division, not in government.

Table: 1. Employment by broad occupational group, 1986 and projected to 2000 moderate alternative, and percent change in employment for selected periods

Table: 2. Projected 1986-2000 employment change (number and percent) for wage and salary workers, by major industry division and for self-employed and unpaid family workers, in major occupational groups, moderate trend

Table: 3. Civilian employment in occupations with 25,000 workers or more, actual 1986 and projected to 2000

Table: 4. Fastest growing occupations, 1986-2000, moderate alternative

Table: 5. Occupations with the largest job growth, 1986-2000, moderate alternative

Table: 6. Fastest declining occupations, 1986-2000, moderate alternative

Table: 7. Occupational employment distribution, 1986 and projected to 2000

Table:

Table: 8. Employment in broad occupational clusters by level of educational attainment, 1986 and projected to 2000, moderate alternative

Table: 9. Projected 1986-2000 growth rate and percent of total employment in 1986 accounted for by blacks, Hispanics, and women, moderate alternative
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Title Annotation:Projections 2000
Author:Silvestri, George T.; Lukasiewicz, John M.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Sep 1, 1987
Words:7472
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