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US Labor Force Projections to 2031

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October 17, 2022

US employment is projected to increase by less than a million a year between 2021 and 2031, from 158 million to 166 million. Because of the covid pandemic, base year employment in 2021 was artificially low due to the closure of restaurants and hotels, which makes projected employment growth appear to be high in some occupations.

US employment growth is projected to average 800,000 a year or 67,000 a month

Chart1. Total employment, 2001-21 and projected 2031

The major reasons for slower employment growth are slowing population growth and population aging. US population growth has been below one percent a year since 2016, and is expected to remain below one percent.

US population growth is projected to remain below 1%

Chart 2. Population, 10-year compound annual average rate of change, 1961-2021 and 2021-31 projected

The share of older workers in the labor force is projected to increase. The share of those 55 to 64 in the labor force is projected to increase from 65 percent in 2021 to 68 percent in 2031, while the share of those 65+ is projected to increase from 19 percent to 21 percent.

The LFPR of older workers is projected to increase during the 2020s

Chart 3. Labor force participation rate, by select age group, 1991-2021 and 2021-31 projected

The share of workers 55+ is projected to increase, while the share 16 to 24 shrinks

Labor Force Share, by Age Group, 2001, 2011, 2021, and Projected 2031

The health and social assistance sector is projected to add the most jobs, some 2.6 million, followed by leisure and hospitality, adding 1.9 million, and professional and business services, adding 1.5 million.

3 sectors are projected to account for ¾ of net employment growth, 2021-31

Chart 4. Employment change by industry sector, 2021-31 projected

The fastest growing occupations have earnings that range from among the lowest to more than the median annual wage, which was $45,760 in May 2021. The number of restaurant cooks is projected to rise by 460,000, reflecting in part the low base of employment in 2021 due to the pandemic. The median hourly wage of restaurant cooks in 2021 was $22 an hour, and the mean hourly wage was $28, which generates a mean annual wage of $58,260. BLS assumes a 2,080 hour work year to calculate median annual wages.

4 of the 10 fastest-growing occupations have low median annual wages

Chart 6. Ten fastest growing occupations, projected 2021-31

Agriculture. Employment in farming occupations was 452,490 in May 2021, when median hourly wages were $14 and mean hourly wages almost $17. The largest group of workers were in SOC 45-2092, crop, nursery, and greenhouse workers, with employment of 277,200, median hourly wages of $14.25 and mean hourly wages $15.11.

Over 60% of the workers with farming occupations are crop workers

Over 60% of the workers with farming occupations are crop workers
Occupation code Occupation title Level Employment Employment RSE Employment per 1,000 jobs Median hourly wage Mean hourly wage Annual mean wage Mean wage RSE
45-0000 Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations major 452,490 0.8% 3.212 $14.36 $16.70 $34,730 0.7%
45-1011 First-Line Supervisors of Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Workers detail 25,770 2.7% 0.183 $23.38 $26.18 $54,450 0.9%
45-2000 Agricultural Workers minor 383,760 0.8% 2.724 $14.27 $15.60 $32,450 0.6%
45-2011 Agricultural Inspectors detail 13,630 2.7% 0.097 $21.70 $22.80 $47,430 0.8%
45-2021 Animal Breeders detail 950 12.2% 0.007 $19.28 $20.81 $43,270 4.0%
45-2041 Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products detail 25,560 4.7% 0.181 $14.25 $14.62 $30,400 0.7%
45-2090 Miscellaneous Agricultural Workers broad 343,630 0.9% 2.439 $14.27 $15.37 $31,980 0.7%
45-2091 Agricultural Equipment Operators detail 26,180 3.3% 0.186 $17.48 $17.44 $36,280 0.9%
45-2092 Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse detail 277,200 1.0% 1.968 $14.25 $15.11 $31,440 0.7%
45-2093 Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals detail 34,140 2.6% 0.242 $14.25 $15.46 $32,150 0.9%
45-2099 Agricultural Workers, All Other detail 6,100 7.4% 0.043 $15.65 $17.88 $37,190 2.5%

References

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#45-0000

BLS. 2022. Employment Projections, 2021-31.


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