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Farm wage and salary jobs expected to be stable at 1.5 million; Hired workers are two thirds of average employment in agriculture

November 27, 2017

DOL released labor force projections for 2016-26 that forecast the US labor force expanding by a million a year, from 159 million in 2016 to 170 million in 2026. About 61 percent of the 278 million US residents 16 and older are expected to be employed or looking for work in 2026, down from the peak labor force participation rate of 67 percent in the late 1990s. The median age of workers, now 42, is projected to rise slightly.

GDP is expected to grow two percent a year over the next decade, up from 1.4 percent a year over the 2006-16 decade.

Employment in 2026 is projected to be 168 million, up from 157 million in 2016. There are expected to be 136 million workers employed in services, 20 million in goods-producing industries, and 2.3 million in agriculture.

In 2016, there were an average 850,000 self-employed persons in US agriculture and an average 1.5 million wage and salary workers in US agriculture. The number of self-employed persons is expected to shrink to 825,000 in 2016, while the number of wage and salary farm workers is projected to be stable at 1.5 million.

The hired share of workers in agriculture is expected to rise slightly to 65 percent as a result of fewer and larger farms that rely more on hired workers and less on operator and family labor.

Some 156 million US workers were assigned to one of 22 broad occupational categories in 2016, including 1.1 million to farming occupations (45-0000). The fastest growth is projected to be in healthcare support occupations, where the number of jobs is forecast to rise by a million to 5.3 million in 2026, personal care occupations, up 1.2 million to 7.6 million, and healthcare practitioner occupations, up 1.3 million to 10 million. Many of the detailed occupations projected to grow fastest pay relatively low wages, including home and personal care aides, doctors’ assistants, and physical therapy assistants.

Agricultural Sector Employment, including forestry, fishing, & logging, 2006-26
Sector 2006 2016 2026 Change, 2006-2026 Change, 2016-2026
Ag wage & salary 1,219 1,501 1,518 23% 1%
Ag self-employed 893 850 828 -5% -3%
Total ag 2,112 2,351 2346 11% 0%
Hired share 58% 64% 65%    
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 1