Through their recently released 10-year employment forecast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is forecasting the creation of 11.5 million jobs between 2016 and 2026. The forecast is very detailed and we can see which occupations are going to be creating most of that growth. Not too surprisingly, healthcare occupations (both technical and support) account for 20 percent of the expected growth.
Another point that is, unfortunately, also not a surprise is the creation of many, low-paying jobs. Three of the top four occupation categories (food prep, personal care and healthcare support) have a median wage below the overall median ($37,040). This is a continuation of a trend. Today’s economy is pretty good at adding jobs, but increasingly, they aren’t the type of jobs people can raise a family with. Note, that we are looking at broad categories here, and their are a variety of occupations within these sectors that have varying earnings potential.
What does this mean for economic development in your community? When we talk economic development we are usually talking about industries (i.e. manufacturing or professional services), not occupations. Industries fall into two general categories, traded sector and local sector. In economic development we focus on those traded sector industries because those are the industries that bring dollars back into your community from the outside. You have to go pretty far down this chart to find occupations that are most likely in traded sectors, but growth in management, business and financial operations, computer and math, and architecture and engineering are key. If you can grow these occupation sectors at or above the national rate, it means you are growing a workforce that that can propel your local economy forward.