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BLS: US Labor Force Projections to 2029
October 13, 2020
The US population is aging and labor force growth is slowing. By 2029, a quarter of US residents are expected to be 65 and older, which is expected to increase employment in health care occupations and reduce labor force participation.
Employment of 163 million in 2019 is projected to increase to 169 million in 2029. All of the next decade’s employment growth is expected to be in services, so that 137 million or 81 percent of US employment is expected to be in services in 2029. The number of jobs in health care and social assistance services is expected to rise by six million.
Agriculture accounted for 1.4 percent of US employment in 2019, including an average of 740,000 self-employed persons and an average 1.6 million wage and salary workers. Hired workers were 68 percent of average agricultural employment in 2019.
The hired worker share of average agricultural employment is expected to increase from 68% to 71% between 2019 and 2029
The average employment of self-employed farmers and family members declined by 12 percent between 2009 and 2019, and is projected to decline another 10 percent by 2029. By contrast, average wage and salary employment in agriculture rose 33 percent between 2009 and 2019, and is projected to rise another two percent by 2029, so that hired workers would account for 71 percent of average agricultural employment in 2029. Agricultural employment includes forestry, fishing, & logging, which collectively account for less than five percent of agricultural employment.
Employment in retail trade is expected to decline fastest between 2019 and 2029, falling by 368,000 after gaining 1.1 million jobs between 2009 and 2019, as brick-and-mortar stores close and employment shifts to warehouses and delivery services. Manufacturing employment, which accounts for half of the jobs in the goods-producing sector, is expected to shrink from 12.8 million in 2019 to 12.4 million in 2029. Construction employment is expected to increase from 7.5 million to 7.8 million over the decade to 2029.
US employment is projected to increase from 163 million in 2019 to 169 million in 2029
The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system groups jobs into 22 categories, from management occupations (SOC 11) to farming occupations (SOC 45) to military occupations (SOC 55). The number of nurse practioners is projected to increase by over 50 percent between 2019 and 2029, and the number of occupational therapy assistants, home health and personal care aides, physical therapist assistants are each projected to increase by a third.
The median age of US residents varies by state, which will influence where aging-related health care jobs are created. Median ages vary by state. In Utah, half of residents are 31 or younger, while in Maine half are 45 or older. Some residents of Illinois and New York retire in Florida, which raises the median age of Florida residents.
In 7 states led by Maine the median-age of residents was above 40
The BLS projections were made before the Covid-19 pandemic. Employment fell sharply in April 2020 due to government-mandated lockdowns, and fell most for low-wage workers who often provide services in person. In mid-April 2020, employment fell 32 percent from January 2020 levels, and employment was still 14 percent lower for low-wage workers in mid-July 2020. Most of the jobs that had not returned by mid-July 2020 are expected to disappear due to remote work, automation, and other changes.
The employment of low-wage workers fell most due to Covid-19 lockdowns, and 40% of the lost jobs are not expected to return
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