Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the occupational employment projections for 2016 to 2026. Almost immediately, the media outlets began publishing articles touting the fastest-growing (and bashing the fastest-declining) occupations. Here is a brief rebuttal to all of those articles.
Percent change in employment, whether it be growth or decline, does not tell the whole story about an occupation. Some fast-growing occupations have very few openings. Conversely, some rapidly declining occupations have many openings, largely due to the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Let’s consider a few examples in the tables below.
Notice that the four fastest-growing occupations highlighted in red are projected to have fewer than 5,000 annual openings nationwide.
Notice that the two fastest-declining occupations highlighted in green are projected to have greater than 15,000 annual openings nationwide. Granted, due to the decline, a worker may have a greater risk of being laid off from one of these jobs. However, which would be the better choice—an electrical and electronic equipment assembler job with 18,200 openings or a bicycle repairer job with only 2,100 openings?
Of course there are other factors to consider, such as salary, working conditions, and skill and interest matches. And that is exactly the point. We should not make hasty career decisions based on overhyped lists of fastest, biggest, or best.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has an excellent short video on understanding labor market data.
For more information on the occupations with the most openings, please see my LinkedIn post.