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Occupation employment projections.

Total employment is projected to increase by 20 percent, or by 24.6 million jobs, between 1990 to 2005, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' moderate growth scenario for the U.S. economy.(1) This rate of growth is just slightly more than half that of the previous 15-year period, 1975-90, largely because of the expected slowing of labor force growth.(2) Projected changes in the industrial composition of employment and changes in technology, combined with the overall slowing of employment growth, cause the projected employment trends of some of the major occupational groups and numerous detailed occupations to depart from their historical growth rates.

In general, the projections show faster rates of employment growth for occupations that require higher levels of education or training and slower rates of growth for those requiring less formal education or training. However, many slower growing occupations are expected to add significant numbers of jobs, primarily because of their large employment bases. Such occupations also are expected to have large numbers of job openings over the 1990-2005 period to replace workers who leave the labor force or transfer to other occupations. Consequently, employers will continue to require workers at all levels of education and training. Nevertheless, the fact remains that workers with higher levels of education or training usually will have more options in the job market and better prospects for obtaining the higher paying jobs.

This article discusses projected changes in the occupational structure of U.S. employment from 1990 to 2005. It also includes analyses of the impact of various factors on occupational employment, especially industry employment trends and expected changes in the occupational structure of industries. Data are presented to show how much each of these factors contributes to the overall projected employment change of major occupational groups. Further, the discussion addresses the relationship of occupational growth to educational requirements and to average earnings. Finally, the implications of the projections for workers in minority groups and young high school dropouts are discussed.

The article focuses initially on the moderate alternative of the three sets of occupational projections developed by BLS that are tied to the moderate economic and industry employment projections alternative presented in the articles by Norman Saunders (pp. 13-30) and Max Carey and James C. Franklin (pp. 45-63). The major occupational differences among the three alternatives are discussed at the end of the article.

Major occupational groups

The structure of employment by major occupational group is expected to change only moderately from 1990 to 2005, as the shares of total employment for most groups are projected to change by less than I percentage point. Administrative support workers (including clerical) are expected to remain the largest occupational group in the projected year, just as they were in the 1990 base year, but are projected to decline as a proportion of total employment. Similarly, agricultural, forestry, fishing, and related occupations-the smallest group in both years-are expected to account for an even smaller proportion of all workers in 2005. The other major occupational groups are expected to retain their 1990 rankings, or at most to move up or down one position. The largest changes in the shares of total employment are projected for operators, fabricators, and laborers (down 1.9 percentage points) and professional specialty occupations (up 1.3 percentage points).

The most significant finding of the projections concerning the structure of occupational employment in the United States over the 1990-2005 period is the continuing above-average growth rate for jobs that require relatively higher levels of education or training. This is reflected primarily in the increasing proportions of executive, administrative, and managerial workers; professional specialty occupations; and technicians and related support occupations. These three major occupational groups, which represented just over one-fourth of total employment in 1990, are expected to account for 41 percent of the increase in employment between 1990 and 2005. Thus, while the broad occupational structure is projected to change slowly, the trend is in the direction of more jobs among those occupational groups with higher skills.

The number of executive, administrative, and managerial workers is expected to grow by 27 percent from 1990 to 2005, which represents an increase of 3.4 million jobs. (See table 1.) The industry-occupation employment matrix used in developing these projections affords an opportunity to look at both the industry and occupational composition of employment in 1990 and projected 2005. Thus, it can be shown that nearly one-half of the growth in the executive, administrative, and managerial occupational group is expected to be among those employed in the services industry division,(3) especially in the engineering and management services industries and in the business services industries. Other industry divisions with large projected increases in numbers of executive, administrative, and managerial workers are retail trade and finance, insurance, and real estate.

However, the projected rate of increase for this occupational group is considerably slower than it was from 1975 to 1990, when the number of executive, administrative, and managerial workers grew more than twice as fast as total employment. In addition, while managers increased faster than any other occupational group in the earlier period, their rate of growth from 1990 to 2005 is expected to be slower than those for technicians and related support occupations; professional specialty occupations; and service occupations. The restructuring of business operations in recent years, which has reduced the utilization of managerial workers in many companies, is expected to continue through 2005, thereby slowing the growth rate for this group.

The number of workers in professional specialty occupations is expected to increase by 32 percent from 1990 to 2005. The 5.1 million additional jobs for these workers are exceeded only by the increase in jobs for service workers. The numbers of professional workers are expected to grow in all major industrial sectors in the economy. However, more than 8 out of 10 additional jobs in this occupational category are in the services industry division, led by education and health services. Other industries that are expected to contribute significantly to the growth in jobs for professional workers are social services; engineering and management services; business services; and government. The rate of increase for professional specialty occupations is expected to be faster than the rate of growth for all occupations, just as it was in the 1975-90 period. Consequently, these workers are expected to increase their share of employment significantly, from 12.9 percent of total employment in 1990 to 14.2 percent in 2005.

Employment in the technicians and related support occupational group is projected to grow by 37 percent, more rapidly than any other major occupational group. In the previous 15-year period 1975-90, this group also was among the fastest growing major occupational groups. Of the 1.6 million jobs added for technicians by 2005, nearly 8 out of 10 are in the services industries. Within services, the majority of jobs for technicians are expected in the large and rapidly growing health services industry. Other industries that also are expected to have rapid increases in numbers of technicians by 2005 are engineering and management services and business services.

Employment of marketing and sales workers is projected to grow by 24 percent from 1990 to 2005-very near the average economy-wide growth rate of 20 percent-and to increase by 3.4 million jobs. These workers are highly concentrated in wholesale and retail trade, with nearly two-thirds employed in the fast-growing retail sector. In addition to these two trade sectors, significant growth in numbers of marketing and sales workers is expected in the service industry division and in finance, insurance, and real estate. However, the projected average rate of growth from 1990 to 2005 for marketing and sales workers is below that posted over the 1975-90 period, during which this group of workers grew faster than the overall average. The main reason for this change is a projected growth rate for wholesale and retail trade which is about half its rate over the preceding 15 years, reflecting the overall slowing of the economy.

Administrative support occupations (including clerical) are projected to increase by just 13 percent from 1990 to 2005 and, as a consequence, to decline from 17.9 percent of total employment in 1990 to 16.9 percent of the total in 2005. The slower-than-average projected growth rate for these workers is below the rate of growth experienced between 1975 and 1990, when their numbers increased about as fast as average. The primary reason for the expected slower growth rate is that many of the detailed occupations in this group are projected to be affected by office automation and other technological changes. However, because of the very large number of workers in this group, nearly 22 million in 1990, a substantial increase in jobs still is projected by 2005-2.9 million, even with the slower rate of growth. Nearly 8 out of 10 additional jobs for administrative support occupations (including clerical) will be found in the service industry division. An additional 367,000 are expected in finance, insurance, and real estate, and 327,000 more in wholesale and retail trade. However, significant job declines among administrative support workers are expected in manufacturing (-168,000); communications and utilities (-93,000); and Federal Government (-93,000).

The number of workers in service occupations is projected to increase by 29 percent from 1990 to 2005 and to add the largest number of jobs of any major occupational group-5.6 million. This faster-than-average growth rate, in contrast to a pace that was about average during 1975-90, is expected to place service occupations just slightly below administrative support workers (including clerical) as the occupational group with the largest number of jobs by 2005. More than half of the additional jobs projected for service occupations are in the rapidly growing services industry division. In addition, retail trade, with large numbers of food preparation and service workers, is projected to add another 2 million jobs, and local government, with a substantial number of protective service occupations, contributes about 341,000 more jobs. Overall, service occupations are expected to increase as a share of total employment from 15.7 percent in 1990 to 16.9 percent in 2005.

Agricultural, forestry, fishing, and related occupations are expected to reverse their earlier decline in employment of about 10 percent from 1975 to 1990 and to grow, but only by a very modest 5 percent through the year 2005. The increase of only 158,000 jobs is the smallest for any major occupational group. Within this major group, jobs for farmers are expected to decline by 224,000. Offsetting this loss is the projected increase of 348,000 jobs for gardeners and groundskeepers (except farm), who are largely employed in the rapidly growing segment of agricultural services that provides gardening and lawn services.

Precision production, craft, and repair occupations are projected to grow more slowly than the average from 1990 to 2005, at a rate of 13 percent. Numbers of workers in this group also grew more slowly than average from 1975 to 1990. The total number of additional jobs is expected to be 1.8 million, with construction contributing 563,000 jobs and services, 528,000 jobs. The growth in wholesale and retail trade is projected to be 364,000 jobs. However, jobs for precision production, craft, and repair workers in manufacturing are expected to decline by 92,000, reflecting the overall decrease projected for manufacturing employment.

The number of operators, fabricators, and laborers is projected to grow by just 4 percent from 1990 to 2005 and, consequently, to decline from 14.1 percent of total employment to 12.2 percent over the projection period. This is the largest projected relative change for any major occupational group. This major group also grew more slowly than average in the preceding 15-year period 1975-90. Workers in this group are concentrated in the declining manufacturing sector and also are susceptible to job losses resulting from changes in technology and production processes. The large projected decline of 863,000 jobs for operators, fabricators, and laborers in manufacturing is expected to be more than offset by the gains expected in services; transportation, communications, and utilities; wholesale and retail trade; and construction. Consequently, employment for this group of workers is projected to increase by 728,000 jobs. Most of this growth will be for workers in the occupational group comprising transportation and material moving machine and vehicle operators.

Detailed occupations

The Bureau has developed employment projections through the year 2005 for more than 500 detailed occupations. In the previous section, those projections were discussed by major occupational group. The following discussion is intended to help the reader identify the detailed occupations (shown in table 2) that are expected to provide favorable job opportunities and those that are expected to experience employment declines. Occupations with favorable future prospects are analyzed from two perspectives, rate of projected growth and size of numerical increases. In addition to numerical growth, initial employment size of the occupation is a major factor in the number of future job openings, because of the need to replace workers who leave the labor force or transfer to other occupations. The replacement process will be discussed in more detail later in this article. Occupations that are expected to have favorable employment prospects are discussed below in conjunction with the levels of education required.

Fastest growing occupations. Virtually all of the 30 occupations with 25,000 or more workers in 1990 and the fastest projected growth rates are concentrated in one or more of the rapidly growing services industries. (See table 3.) A substantial number of these occupations are concentrated in the health services industries, which are expected to have particularly robust growth rates, ranging from 27 percent for hospitals to 107 percent for home health care services. This last industry, and individual and miscellaneous social services-which is also projected to grow very rapidly-employ more than two-thirds of home health aides, the detailed occupation with the fastest projected growth overall. Workers in this occupation are expected to be in great demand to provide personal and physical care for an increasing number of elderly people and for patients who are recovering from surgery and other serious conditions. Also found in these two rapidly growing industries are personal and home care aides, who perform a variety of light housekeeping tasks for those in need of home care. Other occupations in the health field with large projected rates of increase are physical therapists; radiologic technologists and technicians; medical assistants; physical and corrective therapy assistants and aides; medical secretaries; and occupational therapists.

Robust growth is projected for several occupations as a result of the continuing spread of computer technology. The employment of systems analysts and computer scientists is expected to grow rapidly to satisfy expanding needs for scientific research and applications in office and factory automation and telecommunications technology. The number of computer programmers also is expected to increase at a quick pace as government and industry seek new applications for computers and improvements to existing software. Increasing utilization of operations research technologies to improve productivity and reduce costs and a growing number of more affordable computers are expected to boost demand for operations research analysts. Finally, more data processing equipment repairers will be needed to install, maintain, and repair the increasing number of computers in use.

Several additional occupations that are projected to enjoy robust growth, but which are not health- or computer-related, should be mentioned. Paralegals, with the second fastest rate of employment growth overall, are expected to be in great demand in both legal and related fields, due to efforts to provide more cost-effective and efficient legal services to the public. The employment of human services workers is projected to expand in facilities and programs that serve the elderly, the mentally impaired, or the developmentally disabled. Projected increases in spending on travel by consumers and industry are expected to have a favorable impact on the employment of travel agents and flight attendants over the 1990-2005 period. A final occupation worth noting is that of management analyst, which is expected to experience rapid growth as government and industry increasingly rely on such expertise to improve the performance of their organizations.

Occupations with the largest job growth. Many of the occupations with the largest numerical job increases are concentrated in a specific industry group that is expected to expand significantly through the year 2005. (See table 4.) For example, retail trade is expected to increase by more than 5 million jobs, health services by nearly 3.9 million, and educational services by 2.3 million. These three industry sectors are projected to account for nearly half of the growth in wage and salary jobs from 1990 to 2005.

Two of the occupations with the largest job growth, salespersons, retail (887,000 jobs) and cashiers (685,000 jobs), are, of course, found largely in retail trade. Several other occupations with large projected numerical increases are in the large and rapidly growing industry within retail trade, eating and drinking places-food counter, fountain, and related workers; waiters and waitresses; food preparation workers; and both restaurant and short-order cooks.

Several health-related occupations are expected to benefit from the large increases in employment projected for public and private hospitals, which are expected to add 1.3 million jobs for a total of almost 6 million workers in 2005. Jobs for registered nurses are projected to increase by 767,000 over the 1990 level, and those for nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants are expected to be up by 552,000. In the moderate projection, licensed practical nurses benefit from the very rapid growth in nursing and personal care facilities, gaining 269,000 jobs. Home health aide, which was previously mentioned as the occupation projected to grow the fastest, is expected to increase by 263,000 jobs.

Projected increases in student enrollments and declining teacher-student ratios in public schools are expected to spur the demand for teachers in elementary and secondary schools by 313,000 and 437,000 jobs, respectively. Enrollments are expected to increase much faster in secondary schools than in elementary schools. The trend toward greater utilization of teacher aides and educational assistants is assumed to continue through 2005, and results in an increase of 278,000 jobs for these workers in elementary and secondary schools.

Most of the remaining occupations listed in table 4 are found in industries throughout the economy and their growth, as a consequence, is dependent upon many factors. As mentioned in the previous section, numbers of computer programmers and systems analysts are expected to increase with the continued spread of computer technology. Because receptionists and information clerks interact a great deal with people and because their duties are difficult to automate, they are projected to show important increases in employment. General office clerks are expected to continue to replace other administrative support workers (including clerical) who have a limited number of functions. The occupation, secretaries, except legal and medical-while growing more slowly than average-is expected to employ 3.3 million workers in 2005, an increase of 248,000 jobs over the 1990 employment level.

An interesting comparison is between the total increase in employment from those occupations that are projected as the fastest growing (table 3) and the increase from those projected to account for the greatest numerical growth table 4). The first group accounts for 22 percent of the projected overall growth in employment, while the second group accounts for 50 percent (some occupations are included in both of the groups).

Educational requirements for growth jobs. The educational requirements of workers are quite varied among the 30 occupations that are projected to grow most rapidly and the 30 occupations with the largest numerical increases. In exhibit 1, these occupations are presented in three groups, according to the level of education required: occupations that generally require a bachelor's degree or more education; those that generally require some post-secondary training or extensive employer training; and those that generally require high school graduation or less education. In general, a majority of the occupations require education or training beyond high school. In fact, more than 2 out of 3 of the 30 fastest growing occupations and nearly half of the 30 with the largest number of jobs added had a majority of workers with education or training beyond high school in 1990.

Occupations that generally require at least a bachelor's degree are concentrated in the professional specialty group. Several occupations in the second educational attainment group (Group 11) require specific formal training obtained in public and private institutions, including community and junior colleges, which offer occupationally oriented training programs. A few occupations in this second group-such as maintenance repairers, general utility-most often require skills obtained through employer training programs. The third group of occupations are those that require high school graduation or less education. Some occupations, such as secretaries, except legal and medical, may require high school vocational training, but many other occupations have no specific formal training requirements, and jobs skills in these occupations are generally learned on the job in a relatively short time.

Declining occupations

Projected declines in industry employment, technological change, and other factors are expected to reduce the demand for workers in some specific occupations over the 1990-2005 period. The following discussion focuses on those occupations with the largest job declines, rather than on those with the fastest rates of decline. Many detailed occupations in the latter category are small in size, and the resulting employment declines consequently are not very significant.

More than half of the 30 occupations with large projected declines are concentrated in manufacturing, in which employment is projected to contract by nearly 600,000 jobs by 2005. (See table 5.) Several manufacturing industries are expected to suffer employment declines resulting from projections of reduced defense expenditures, increased imports, and higher levels of productivity resulting from advances in technology. The more factors that contribute to the overall employment shrinkage in any industry, the larger the declines among occupations specific to that industry. For example, approximately 61,000 jobs for textile draw-out and winding machine operators and tenders are projected to be lost due to increased automation and an overall decline in employment in the textile industry. Other occupations in manufacturing that are projected to contract due to the wider adoption of computer controlled machinery and other automated processes include electrical and electronic assemblers (-105,000 jobs); electrical and electronic equipment assemblers, precision (-81,000 jobs); machine forming operators and tenders, metal and plastic (-43,000 jobs); machine tool cutting operators and tenders, metal and plastic (-42,000 jobs); and lathe and turning machine tool setters and set-up operators, metal and plastic (-20,000 jobs).

Some occupations are projected to decline due to increased office automation, including bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks (-133,000 jobs) and typists and word processors (-103,000 jobs).

Several declining occupations are found in industries that are expected to continue their long-run loss of employment through 2005. The projected decrease in crops and livestock production in agriculture, for example, is expected to result in 224,000 jobs lost for farmers and a loss of 92,000 jobs for farmworkers. The movement toward child care outside the home is expected to result in a decline of 124,000 jobs for child care workers in private households. Finally, the telephone communications industry is projected to lose more than 200,000 jobs by 2005, resulting in reduced employment prospects for several occupations shown in the table of declining occupations.

Self-employed workers

Some 10.2 million self-employed workers accounted for 8.3 percent of the nearly 123 million job total in 1990. The number of self-employed workers is projected to grow by 1.5 million, or a total of 15 percent, between 1990 and 2005. (See table 6.) This rate of growth is somewhat slower than the projected total increase of 21 percent for wage and salary employees. Among the detailed occupations, however, there is a great deal of variation in the projected growth of self-employed workers.

Self-employed workers, like wage and salary workers, can be discussed from an industry or from an occupational perspective. From an industry view, more than half of all self-employed workers were concentrated in the services industry division and in retail trade in 1990. The services industry division alone had nearly 4 million self-employed workers, twice as many as any other sector, and accounted for nearly 40 percent of the total. Retail trade had 1.5 million self-employed workers in 1990, or 15 percent of the total, and construction and agriculture, forestry, and fisheries both employed just slightly less than that number. Virtually all of the recent job growth among self-employed workers by industry has been in services; construction; and finance, insurance, and real estate. Employment declines among the self-employed have been occurring in agriculture, forestry, and fishing and in retail trade.

From 1990 to 2005, about one-third of the increase in self-employed workers by occupation is expected to occur among executive, administrative, and managerial occupations jobs 508,000 out of 1.5 million. The recent trend of faster job growth among self-employed managers than among their wage and salary counterparts is expected to continue through 2005 as many individuals continue to start up their own businesses.

The next largest increase in self-employment (442,000 jobs) occurs in service occupations. Numerous additional opportunities (210,000) are expected for self-employed child care workers as more and more families seek child care outside the home. Other occupations with projected increases in self-employed workers include janitors and cleaners, including maids and housekeeping cleaners (111,000) and hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists (76,000).

Other areas that will provide opportunities for self-employment are professional speciality occupations (281,000 jobs) and precision production, craft, and repair (246,000 jobs). Both of these groups have large numbers of detailed occupations in which the proportion of self-employed workers to all workers is relatively high.

Occupations in the marketing and sales fields had the most self-employed workers in 1990, but they are projected to grow by only 72,000 workers, or a cumulative 4 percent, from 1990 to 2005. Growth in numbers of salaried employees in medium-size and large establishments in industries that employ these workers is expected to outpace the increases among self-employed workers. However, in many sales occupations, the self-employed will still account for a sizable portion of total employment in 2005.

Within the major group "agriculture, forestry, fishing, and related occupations," the number of self-employed farmers is projected to continue its long-run decline and to shrink by about 224,000 due to a reduction in the number of smaller farms. The one occupation in this major group that is expected to experience growth in the number of self-employed workers is gardeners and grounds keepers (up 84,000).

Factors underlying change, 1990-2005

Two interacting factors statistically summarize the variety of reasons for change in occupational employment-shifts in employment among industries and changes in the occupational structure of industries. The among-industry employment shifts are driven both by changes in the components of final demand, such as reductions in defense expenditures and increases in exports, as well as by interindustry purchases, which, in turn, are influenced by technological change, product development, and relative prices. Changes in occupational structure also reflect the impact of technological changes, product shifts, organizational changes, and other influences that affect the utilization of workers by occupation within an industry.

The method of determining how much of the projected employment change is attributable to among-industry employment change and how much to changes in the occupational structure of industries incorporates a three-step procedure using the industry-occupational employment matrix. In the first step, the actual projected change in employment by occupation is computed by subtracting the 1990 employment for an occupation from the 2005 projected employment. This calculation represents the total change for the occupation caused both by the industry employment shifts and by the projected occupational ratio changes.

In the second step, the occupational staffing pattern distribution of industries shown in the 1990 matrix is multiplied by the 2005 projected industry employment totals. The resulting employment totals indicate the employment that would be observed if the only factor affecting projected occupational employment were the projected change in industry employment. The 1990 occupational employment is then subtracted from the 2005 occupational employment level resulting from this step. This subtraction yields the amount of occupational employment change due to shifts of employment among industries.

In the final step, the employment change for an occupation, calculated in the second step, is subtracted from the employment change for each occupation obtained in the first step. This subtraction yields the occupational employment change due to occupational structure change and the interaction of these two factors with each other.

The factor differences from this procedure are shown in table 7. The first column of data in the table is the total projected change computed in step 1. The second column is the industry employment-related change derived from using the static industry-occupation matrix in step 2. The third column is the occupational structure-related change from step 3.

Table 7 indicates the significance of the factors causing employment to change at the major occupational group level. It also shows the number of detailed occupations contributing to the employment change in each of four cases in which industry employment and occupational ratios either increase or decrease. In the first case, both the industry employment change and the occupational structure change are causing employment in the occupation to grow. It is important to note that both factor increases are on a net basis. For instance, although the industry employment factor is increasing on a net basis in the first combination, the employment for any occupation may be found in some declining industries in the 2005 industry-occupation matrix, but these declines are more than offset by increases in the occupation's employment in industries in which employment is growing.

In the second case, both the industry employment change and the occupational structure change lead to decreasing employment in the occupation. In the third case, the industry employment change works toward increasing employment and the occupational structure change works toward lowering it. In the fourth case, the effects of these two factors are reversed.

Nearly all of the 24.6 million change in employment based on the actual projected change by occupation occurred in the two cases in which industry employment was increasing on a net basis for the occupation. This is natural because employment in most nonmanufacturing industries is projected to grow and that in the manufacturing industries is projected to decline only moderately. In the two cases with increasing industry employment, most of the job growth occurs in the combination with increasing occupational ratios. As can be seen from the table, there was a projected increase of 6.4 million workers stemming from the third combination in the first data column. Of this number, there was an 11.1 million increase due to among-industry employment change alone and an offsetting decline of 4.7 million due to occupational ratio decreases.

In the largest combination, where both industry employment and occupational ratios work in the direction of expanding employment in an occupation, 14.6 million of the total increase comes solely from industry employment increases. Another 4.9 million comes from rising occupational ratios within the industries.

Table 8 shows the amount of projected employment change by major occupational group that is attributable to projected changes in industry employment and projected changes to the occupational structure of industries. Most of the change shown for the occupational groups is due to projected shifts in employment among industries. However, the occupational groups consisting of administrative support workers, including clerical; professional specialty workers; and operators, fabricators, and laborers all have significant employment change due to expected changes in occupational structure.

Replacements and job openings

The discussion thus far has been concerned with one aspect of the projected total demand for workers over the 1990-2005 period-occupational employment growth. Another aspect of demand is the need to replace workers who leave their occupations to enter others, or who retire or leave the labor force for other reasons. Consequently, even occupations with little or no employment growth and those that are projected to decline provide job openings. Of the total number of job openings in 2005, more are expected to result from net replacement needs than from employment growth in the economy.(4) Estimates of net replacement needs for selected occupations are presented in table 9, along with job openings due to growth for the 1990-2005 period. The sum of the two columns is termed total job openings. The ratio of total job openings to 1990 employment for the occupation is called the opportunity ratio." It represents the relationship of projected job openings to current (1990) employment.

One of the highest opportunity ratios (0.84) is for food preparation and service occupations. Nearly twice as many of the total job openings are expected to come from net replacement needs as from job openings due to growth for this occupation, despite the projected cumulative employment increase of 30 percent in the food preparation and service occupations. Much of the high net replacement rate arises from occupational transfers of younger workers, especially in fast food establishments.

Another occupation with a high opportunity ratio (0.87) is mathematical and computer scientists, which also is projected to grow rapidly. In contrast to food preparation and service occupations, only a sixth of the total job openings for this occupation come from net replacements. The occupation is characterized by a relatively young work force with strong attachment to the occupation. The low average age means that not many workers will be lost due to death or retirement, and the strong occupational attachment keeps the rate of occupational transfers relatively low.

Other high opportunity ratios are found among protective service occupations (0.73); and technicians, except health, engineering, and scientific (0.74). A final occupational group worth noting is machine operators, assemblers, and inspectors, which has a low opportunity ratio (0.36). Despite a projected decline in employment of 694,000 jobs by 2005 (computed from data in table 2), more than 2.7 million workers will be needed to replace those who are projected to leave the occupation.

Implications of the projections

The differential growth of occupations has a variety of implications for the job market through the year 2005. They involve education, earnings, and job opportunities for members of minority groups and young high school dropouts.

Education and occupational earnings. The following questions about the implications of the occupational employment projections on the educational needs of workers and the potential for earnings in various occupations need to be considered. First, do workers in occupations that require higher levels of education have higher median earnings than those in occupations with lower educational requirements? Second, are occupations that require the most education and yield the greatest earnings projected to grow more rapidly than those that require less education and pay less? To shed light on the first question, we can look at the most recently available data on levels of median annual earnings by occupation and level of education. (See table 10.)

Among the major occupational groups, workers at each level of education have higher median earnings than those at the next lower level of education. The differences in earnings between those with 4 years of college or more and those with less education is much greater for some occupational groups than for others. For example, executive, administrative, and managerial workers and sales workers with at least 4 years of college earn significantly more than their counterparts with less education. The earnings differentials for those with at least 4 years of college and those with less education are not nearly as great for professional specialty occupations and technicians and related support workers.

The second question seeks to determine whether occupations that are projected to grow the most rapidly are those that require the most education and have the highest median earnings. The method used to answer this question is to compare current levels of educational attainment and current median weekly earnings by occupation with the projected rates of occupational employment change. These data point to two important conclusions. First, workers in occupations with higher levels of educational attainment generally earn more than workers with lower levels of education. Second, many of the occupations projected to grow the most rapidly between 1990 and 2005 are among those with higher levels of education and earnings.

Table 11 shows selected intermediate occupational groups(5) by level of educational attainment and median weekly earnings, ranked by the 1990-2005 projected rates of employment change. Twelve of the occupational groups are projected to grow faster than average, and of these, three-fourths have above-average median weekly earnings. Many of these groups are professional specialty occupations, which have large proportions of workers with 4 years of college or more and who currently have above-average earnings. These include lawyers and judges; health diagnosing occupations; engineers; mathematical and computer scientists; natural scientists; health assessment and treating occupations; and teachers, except college and university. The only professional specialty occupational group with a large proportion of college educated workers that is projected to grow more slowly than average is college and university teachers.

Other than professional specialty occupations, the only groups with both rapid projected rates of growth and above-average earnings are executive, administrative, and managerial occupations; engineering and related technologists and technicians; and protective service workers. Finally, it should be noted that a few occupational groups that are not projected to grow as rapidly have average or higher median weekly earnings, including supervisors, administrative support; mail and message distributing occupations; mechanics and repairers; and construction trades workers.

Women and minority workers. What do the 1990-2005 projections imply for future job opportunities for women and minority workers?

Presently, the fastest growing segments of the labor force-women, blacks, and Hispanics--are disproportionately employed in occupations that are projected to grow more slowly or to decline, or, regardless of growth path, that pay relatively lower wages. Unless these labor force groups are utilized more efficiently, the Nation may face problems in filling the higher skilled, higher paying positions that are expected to grow the fastest in the future.

As table 12 shows, the educational attainment of employed women roughly matches that of the labor force as a whole. Given this, women can be expected to increase their proportions in the higher paying jobs, such as professional specialties, and executive, administrative, and managerial jobs in which they are already significantly represented. Despite their educational attainment, however, women are under represented in certain professional occupations (such as engineers, health-diagnosing occupations, and lawyers and judges) and overrepresented in some lower paying occupations (such as administrative support).

Table 12 also show that blacks have lower educational attainment at the college level, and that Hispanics-the fastest-growing labor force group-have below-average attainment at the four measured academic levels. Presently, black workers and Hispanic workers are employed in virtually every occupation, but are more heavily concentrated in occupations projected to decline or grow more slowly. (See table 13.) This, coupled with their current relatively lower educational attainment-41 percent of Hispanic workers had not finished high school in 1990-may presage trouble for U.S. society unless gains in schooling among minority workers continue, particularly at the post-secondary level. Both groups have high proportions of workers in service occupations that are projected to grow faster than the average over the projections period. However, many of these jobs have below-average earnings.(6)

Young high school dropouts. The last population group to which we turn our attention are young people who do not have a high school diploma. What are the job prospects for workers entering a labor market in which most growing occupations require higher levels of education and training? What opportunities, if any, exist for such employees to move up the job ladder? To shed some light on these questions, we can compare recent occupational distribution patterns of high school dropouts in two age groups (16 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years) with the occupational distribution of workers in the same age groups who have graduated from high school. (See table 14.) These two age groups have been selected to compare the kinds of jobs held by young high school dropouts and those held by young graduates with the jobs held by workers with the same educational status, but who are somewhat older and who have more work experience. Thus, we can infer the extent to which workers with and without a high school diploma are able to improve themselves in labor market terms.

The data show that high school dropouts are at a decided disadvantage in the job market and have fewer opportunities for job advancement than those who obtain a high school education. In 1990, more than half of those who did not complete high school in both of the age groups studied were employed either as operators, fabricators, and laborers (projected to grow slowly) or in service occupations (projected to grow rapidly). Both of these groups currently have below-average median weekly earnings. Very few of the high school dropouts were employed as managers, professionals, or technicians--fewer than 4 percent of the 16- to 24-year-olds and only 6 percent of the 25- to 34-year-olds. Employment opportunities in these three occupational groups also are limited for high school graduates, but their proportions of total employment in both of the age groups are more than twice those for workers who did not earn a diploma. The labor market advantages of finishing high school are clear.

Alternative projections

The discussion of projections of occupational employment through the year 2005 thus far has focused on the moderate alternative of the three sets of projections developed by BLS. This section of the article presents a brief analysis of the differences in employment, at the level of the major occupational group, between the moderate-trend scenario and the low-trend and high-trend projections. Compared to a cumulative 20-percent growth rate for total employment in the moderate projection, the growth rates in the low-trend and high-trend alternatives are expected to be 12 percent and 26 percent. (See table 2.)

The distribution of total employment by major occupational group varies little among the three sets of projections alternatives for 2005 because of offsetting changes among the detailed occupations within each of the major groups. (See table 15.) Among the detailed occupations, however, significant numerical differences exist between each of the alternatives. In fact, even the direction of projected employment change for an occupation from 1990 to 2005 can be different among the alternatives. For example, the occupation "furnace operators and tenders" is projected to decline in employment in both the low and moderate alternatives, but is projected to expand in the high scenario. The differences in projected occupational employment change among the alternatives are caused only by differences in the projected levels of industry employment, because the same set of occupational staffing patterns by industry is used in all three projections alternatives.

The range of total employment in 2005 from the low-trend alternative to the high-trend alternative is 17.7 million workers. Therefore, the range in projected employment for detailed occupations can be very large, particularly for occupations of large size, as shown in table 16.

THE OCCUPATIONAL PROJECTIONS presented in this article provide information to those interested in labor market issues. They also provide the background for analyses of future employment opportunities described in the BLS publication, Occupational Outlook Handbook. Job outlook information in the 1992-93 edition of the Handbook, scheduled for release in the spring of 1992, will use the projections presented in each of the articles that make up Outlook: 1990-2005.


1) The 1990 employment estimates described in this article are derived from the Bureau's industry-occupation employment matrix, which includes data for more than 500 detailed occupations and 250 detailed industries. The main sources of data used in the matrix are Current Employment Statistics (CES) estimates for total wage and salary jobs by industry and Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data for employment by occupation within detailed industries. Total employment and occupational staffing patterns of wage and salary workers in agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, and trapping and in private households are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Economywide data on self-employed and unpaid family workers by occupation also are derived from the CPS. The estimates derived from the CES and OES differ from those obtained from the CPS in a number of important ways. For example, employed persons who hold more than one job are counted more than once in the CES and OES estimates, but not in the cps data, which exclude the secondary jobs. The concept of employment in this article, therefore, represents the combined estimates, from the different sources cited above, of people who were working in 1990 and the numbers of workers expected to be demanded by employers in 2005.

2) See Howard N Fullerton, Jr., "Labor force projections: the baby boom moves on," pp. 31-44.

3) The services industry division in the industry-occupation matrix includes employees in State and local government hospitals and education. In the article on industry employment by Max Carey and James Franklin on pages 45-63, workers in State and local government and hospitals are included in the estimates of government employment.

4) Net replacements are calculated by comparing the flow of workers over time into and out of various occupations by age group. If an age group has more people entering an occupation than leaving it, the difference is termed net entrants. Similarly, if more people leave than enter, the difference is termed net leavers. The total of net leavers for all the age groups in an occupation is termed job openings due to replacements,. Job openings due to growth are added to the replacements in order to more accurately reflect total job openings for an occupation.

5) Intermediate occupational groups have not been mentioned previously in the article. They are aggregations of detailed occupations below the major occupation group levels.

6) Asian-American workers, who have relatively high educational attainment, are not dealt with in this analysis because the worker universe is not large enough to yield reliable estimates at the level of occupational detail.
COPYRIGHT 1991 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Author:Silvestri, George; Lukasiewicz, John
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:Industry output and job growth continues slow into next century.
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