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Outlook: 1990-2005.

Developing projections of employment and other economic activity 10 to 15 years in the future has been a regular program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics since the end of World War II. The latest BLS projections cover the 1990-2005 period. They mark the Bureau's first look at the economy in the 21st century. In words and pictures, this issue of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly provides a glimpse of what that future will be, especially with regard to occupations.

The Bureau's projections are used by those who plan programs in a wide variety of educational and training institutions, formulate the policy of government agencies, and perform market research and personnel planning in the private sector of the economy. Readers of the Quarterly, however, are probably most familiar with their use in career guidance because the projections provide the statistical support for the discussions of job opportunities in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

This issue of the Quarterly provides users of the Handbook and other career guidance information with a background for discussions of employment outlook in specific occupations and fields of work. It has four sections:

* An overview showing the close relationship of the growth of the labor force, employment, and the economy as measured by GNP.

* The labor force and its changing demographic composition.

* Industry employment and the links between industries and the occupations they comprise.

* Employment prospects by occupation.

Developing the Projections

The Bureau develops its projections through a complex series of economic models that relate economic theory and behavior to labor market and other economic data. They also incorporate specific assumptions concerning such variables as defense spending, immigration, unemployment, and the world's political and economic situation. In the increasingly global economy, the latter plays a major role in the development of the projections.

The Bureau develops three alternative models of the economy--high growth, moderate growth, and low growth. Each uses somewhat different assumptions. The moderate projections are used to develop the job outlook discussions in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, so they are the only ones presented here.

Highlights and Implications of the


The Bureau's projections include considerable detail about trends in the economy, changes in the structure of the labor force, and employment growth in about 500 occupations in more than 300 industries. Within this wide body of data, some highlights have significant meaning for individuals planning their careers.

* The rate of economic growth will be much slower through 2005 than during the 1970's and mid-1980's when the baby-boom generation entered the workforce. This slowdown is largely driven by demographics. It does not mean that overall job prospects for individuals will be significantly different than during the earlier period, as measured in terms of a balance of the supply and demand for workers. Growth of demand stems in large part from growth of the labor force, which drives demand for consumer goods and services, business investment, government purchaes of goods and services, and imports.

* The demographic picture of the labor force by race and Hispanic origin will change, but not drastically. Although minority groups will grow faster than average, white, non-Hispanics will still account for the vast majority of workers in 2005, as they did in 1990. White, non-Hispanics made up 78.5 percent of the workforce in 1990; their share will decline by 5.5 percentage points over the 1990-2005 period. Growth in the proportion of Hispanics will account for more than half of the change. By 2005, the number of Hispanics in the labor-force will be approaching the number of blacks.

* Women's share of the labor force will continue to increase as a larger proportion of them look for jobs.

* The average age of the labor force will increase as the baby-boom generation ages.

* Industry employment growth will be very concentrated. The services and retail trade industry divisions will account for three-fourths of the growth in employment. Health, education, business services, and eating and drinking places will account for a very large part of the growth.

* Because most occupations are concentrated by industry, the growth of these industries is a major factor in the growth of occupations. The large health services industry will continue to grow much faster than average. Consequently, health occupations will be among the occupations having rapid growth and providing favorable job prospects at all levels of education.

* Defense expenditures are expected to decline through most of the 1990-2005 period. This will affect defense-related industries and limit the growth of occupations concentrated in those industries.

* Exports are projected to increase faster than any other demand category. This will cause the output of many manufacturing industries to rise significantly and thereby limit the decline of employment in this large division. In order for U.S. companies to compete in international markets, technological advances, changes in business practices, and improvements in production methods all contribute to productivity growth.

* Workers with the most education and training will have the best opportunities for obtaining high-paying jobs in growing occupations because of the changing occupational composition of the workforce and the changing structure of work within occupations. Although the projections indicate that jobs will be available for those without training beyong high school, prospects for high-paying jobs will increasingly be better for those having postsecondary education and training. An important factor is that the high-paying jobs for workers without education beyong high school in our Nation's manufacturing establishments are declining in number for a combination of reasons, including technological change and changing business practices. Thus, individuals who drop out of school or complete high school without obtaining basic reading and mathematics skills will be at a great disadvantage in the workplace of 2005.

* Technology will continue to change the structure of employment and how work is done. Computer technology will be used to an increasing extent in a wide variety of functions. As a result, systems analyst and programmer will be among the fastest growing occupations, and more and more workers in other occupations will need to be computer literate. Improved office technology will continue to limit the growth of administrative support occupations, which will be among the slower growing groups of occupations.

* The manner in which businesses operate is changing so that greater interpersonal skills and greater analystical skills are needed. In order for future workers to have these skills, our educational system must provide more than the basic 3 R's.
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Title Annotation:occupational
Publication:Occupational Outlook Quarterly
Date:Sep 22, 1991
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