Tag Archives: workforce

The Best Career Decisions Use Local Information

A local college recently announced a new program to train occupational therapy assistants, citing 41% national growth through 2022 and a persistent labor shortage.

As a job seeker how could you decide whether to invest over $45,000 of your tuition dollars in this program?

Enter the Long-Term Occupational Projections, 2012–2022, for New York State and its 10 labor market regions. These data were just released by the New York State Department of Labor. They tell you the demand for about 700 different detailed occupations, both statewide and in your local area.

Click here to download the chart.

How to Read the Chart

1. Identify your occupational title, which is sometimes easier said than done. Suppose you are looking for information on occupational therapy assistants. That one is not too difficult because there is actually an occupational title named “occupational therapy assistants” (try not to confuse it with occupational therapists or occupational therapy aides). However, you will find that the list is not sorted alphabetically by occupation. To find your title you will need to use Microsoft Excel’s Find function. If you still cannot find an occupation that matches the job title you had in mind, try searching for it on www.onetcodeconnector.org.


2. Check out the Employment numbers. The first tab on the chart is for all of New York State. Note that there are projected to be 2,570 occupational therapy assistant jobs statewide in 2022, 520 more than there were in 2012. That is a growth rate of 25.4% over 10 years—pretty impressive, but not quite as high as the nationwide growth rate cited in our first paragraph. Of course the most important piece of information on this chart is the Total number of Annual Average Openings—just 100 per year. Half of the openings are due to new job growth, half due to replacements for people leaving the occupation.

3. Take a look at the wages. Remember that if you have no experience in the occupation, you will likely start near the entry level. If you can find a job after graduation, $39,720 is probably a high enough annual salary to start paying back those inevitable student loans.


What About Your Local Labor Market?

Information for the Finger Lakes Region, which includes Monroe County plus eight other surrounding counties, can be found in the fourth tab on the chart.


Notice the Total number of Annual Average Openings in the Finger Lakes—zero! (There are actually at least three average annual openings, but rounded to the nearest 10, that equals zero). Thirty or more annual openings would be a less risky number for the Finger Lakes. Some high-demand occupations have 100 or more annual openings.

Entry-level wages for occupational therapy assistants in the Finger Lakes are also a bit lower than statewide—$36,440 annually.

Can You Trust These Numbers?

The Long-Term Occupational Projections are usually fairly consistent with numbers of actual job openings. But for several reasons they are not accurate in every case. So you should always verify them by doing a real-time search on job search web sites.

I performed a search on www.indeed.com for occupational therapy assistants within 50 miles of Rochester, NY, expecting to find only one, or none. To my surprise I found at least four unduplicated, full-time, regular jobs posted. I also found a number of part-time, per diem, or travel jobs. So this was one of those instances where the long-term projections underestimated the number of openings.

Supply and Demand

We cannot discuss demand without also looking at supply. In the labor market demand represents the number of job openings. Supply represents the number of qualified job seekers competing for those jobs. For example, until that new occupational therapy assistant program starts pumping out graduates, we may very well have a labor shortage—even with a relatively small number of annual openings. However, if the college starts graduating 15 occupational therapy assistants per year, we may end up with an oversupply. Graduates of the program would then have to be open to working a travel job or relocating. The long-term projections show that more than half of the statewide openings are likely to be downstate.

So Should You Pursue That Occupation or Not?

When in doubt, get some advice. College counselors can give you an idea of the market for the jobs they prepare you for. But keep in mind that their perspective is limited to the educational programs offered by their school. And admissions counselors at some colleges may advise you with the motive of filling a recruitment quota.

Your local career center is a great place to get a second opinion. If in Rochester, come see us at one of the RochesterWorks! Career Centers. Elsewhere in New York State, find your local career center at http://labor.ny.gov/career-center-locator/.

Opening image from publicdomainpictures.net

Beverage vs. Adler

Lou Adler offers an interesting perspective on the Labor Department’s job openings numbers in his post “The Feb 11 JOLTS Report Predicts…” I am really glad that he discussed the JOLTS numbers. It is important to look beyond the two pieces of data—the official Unemployment Rate and the monthly jobs report—on which the media fixate.

There is a trend that comes out of the job openings numbers that you should be aware of: The Beveridge curve. (Okay, I admit that I intentionally misspelled it beverage in the post title so that I could use the soft drink image). The Beveridge curve takes the job openings rate and compares it to the Unemployment rate. As the job openings rate goes up or down, so does the Unemployment rate.

Here is why you should be especially concerned about the relationship between job openings and Unemployment today. In 2010 the Beveridge curve shifted up and to the right where it has stayed through the end of 2013. That has been evidenced by relatively high Unemployment at a time when there are high numbers of job openings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes this situation as ‘inefficient job matching.’ It is a source of frustration for both businesses and job seekers and a real challenge for workforce professionals.

So, is the coincidence of high numbers of job openings and high Unemployment a cyclical issue that will eventually correct itself? Or is it a reflection of a real lack of skills among workers? We cannot be certain. But anecdotal evidence suggests that businesses should focus on developing the skills of their workers and job seekers should take the initiative to build their own skills.

If the data really interest you, information about the Beveridge curve can be found on pp. 19–23 of this document.

Opening soft drink image is from publicdomainpictures.net.

Where Are the Skilled Workers? — Rochester

In my recent series, “Where Are the Skilled Workers?” I focused on national trends that could help businesses find talent. (You will find that series on my blog). Can those same strategies help businesses in Rochester, NY?

In November, Unemployment in the Rochester area was still 6.3%. Yet local businesses continue to report difficulty filling key positions. Here are four strategies, based on workforce trends, which can help Rochester businesses find talent.

1. Recruit experienced workers who are un- or under-employed

In November the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported about 4 million long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) and over 7.5 million part-time workers who want to work full time. Comparative data confirm that Rochester has its fair share of both groups of people. Here are some key reasons why you should consider hiring them.

  • The numbers of discouraged workers and others who are available but no longer actively searching for work have been declining. That trend suggests that many of the long-term unemployed have been going back to work.
  • Both the long-term unemployed and part-time workers have the “soft” skills that you are looking for (otherwise they would not have been in the labor force to begin with).
  • There are still National Emergency Grant funds available to cover the cost of on-the-job training for the long-term unemployed, but they will not be available for long.
  • Part-time workers have demonstrated that they really want to work, and some of them may already be on your payroll.

2. Take advantage of seasonal layoff patterns

Here is another time-sensitive opportunity for you. Layoffs follow predictable, seasonal cycles. Involuntary separations tend to peak in December and January of each year. In contrast, hiring tends to drop to its lowest level in the November–February period. I believe that these national trends hold true for our local area.

You can take advantage of the trends by hiring new employees during the December–February timeframe. You will have both the largest pool of available, experienced workers and the least competition for them. If your company typically lays off workers during this period, could you use the time to strategically retain and train your most valuable employees?

3. Recruit for diversity

Here is a strategy based on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for Rochester and Monroe County. Consider the following groups.

  • Younger Workers. There are over 100,000 young men and women, aged 20–29, in Monroe County. You will need them to replace the retiring Baby Boomers.
  • Older Workers. There are nearly 150,000 people, aged 55–74, in Monroe County. The 55-and-older group is the only age demographic whose Labor Force Participation Rate increased in the last decade. So they just may be willing to stay on with you, even if you can only keep them part time.
  • Women. Young women are more likely to have higher basic skills levels than their male counterparts. They may also be interested in the often higher-paying, non-traditional occupations for women.
  • Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Labor Force numbers for white, non-Hispanic men have remained flat since 2000. In contrast, we have seen increases for every other group.
  • Individuals With Disabilities and Veterans. These are two additional groups that are likely to have some solid, transferable skills.

4. Look for workers who are leaving declining occupations or industries.

So you cannot find qualified candidates who have experience in both the occupation and industry for which you are hiring. Could you find someone with experience in one or the other? Or perhaps a qualified candidate has experience in a related occupation or industry with the right set of transferable skills.

You will find a pool of available workers in declining occupations. Rochester-area occupations that are shrinking at the fastest rate include the following.

  • Postal service workers
  • Sewing machine operators and garment pressers
  • Word processors, typists, computer operators, and switchboard operators

The following Rochester-area industry sectors experienced over 10,000 employment separations each during the last quarter of 2012. (Note: These industries are not necessarily in decline. But the workers may be available.)

  • Professional and business services
  • Education and health services
  • Trade, transportation, and utilities

Admittedly, none of these strategies are “silver bullets” for solving your recruitment needs. What they are is an important set of trends to keep in mind when searching for talent.

Image above from publicdomainpictures.net

Where Are the Skilled Workers? — Part 4

New data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics can help you find available talent with solid transferable skills. What does the report tell us?

Highlights of the Occupational Projections

The occupational projections cover 818 different occupational titles. If you are seeking talent to fill open positions, you should be interested in two pieces of information about these occupations—growth (or decline) and replacement needs.

Occupational Growth

Fast-growing occupations face stiff competition for talent. On the other hand, declining occupations may be a source of skilled workers with transferable skills.

Replacement Needs

Replacement data reflect the need to fill positions due to employee turnover, when a worker changes occupations or leaves the workforce. High replacement numbers tend to ease the effect of occupational decline. For example, postal service mail carriers is the occupation with the second highest decline, 79,200 jobs. However, the need for 102,700 replacement workers makes it an occupation for which we can expect to see continued recruitment.

Job Title SOC Code Decline, 2012–2022 (Thousands) Replacement Needs, 2012–2022 (Thousands)
Sewing machine operators 51-6031 -41.7 7.7
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers 11-9013 -179.9 150.2
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators 43-5053 -38.6 9.4
Data entry keyers 43-9021 -54.2 26.3
Word processors and typists 43-9022 -26.2 3.7
Postal service clerks 43-5051 -21.3 10.2
Computer operators 43-9011 -12.7 7.2
Door-to-door sales workers, news and street vendors, and related workers 41-9091 -14.2 9.3
Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic 51-4072 -19.2 15.1
Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders 51-6063 -5.4 3.5
Fallers 45-4021 -2.9 1
Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders 51-6062 -4.2 2.5
Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders 51-6064 -5.6 4.4
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks 43-4181 -19.5 18.5
Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders 51-6061 -2.7 1.8

Key Strategies for Talent Acquisition

If you are having difficulty finding workers with the exact skill set that you need, you should consider recruiting workers who are leaving declining occupations. Some of them are good candidates because they have experience in your industry. Others have both the “soft skills” that you are seeking and the aptitude to learn the job.

The down side to this strategy is that the biggest declines in job numbers tend to be concentrated in relatively low-tech functions in just a few job families. So you will not find a large variety of these workers, and you will have to teach them the technical side of your business.

Here is a table that shows recruiting needs that are most likely to be filled by this strategy.

Recruiting Need


Health Care Occupations are among those with the most projected job growth.
Recruit from declining occupations for which customer service skills are common. Examples include door-to-door sales workers, ticket agents, and travel clerks.
There are large numbers of job openings projected for accounting and secretarial jobs—particularly medical secretaries.
Try recruiting from declining occupations for which data management skills are important. Examples include any of the six entries on the declining occupations table (above) whose SOC code starts with the “43” prefix.
Due to the aging of the workforce in the skilled trades, there is a significant need for replacement workers.
You might have success with workers from any of the “hands-on” jobs that are in decline. Examples include farming and production occupations.
According to the Manufacturing Institute, as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs are going unfilled. The growth is largely in Advanced Manufacturing.
Six of the entries on the declining occupations table (above) are production job titles. Individuals with experience in these jobs already have basic manufacturing industry knowledge. Many of them would be good candidates for Advanced Manufacturing jobs.

If you missed the first three articles in this series, click here to access the other blogs, which include three additional recruiting strategies for businesses.

Job Projections to 2022 Troubling

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their Occupational Employment Projections, 2012–2022, today. Here is my initial reaction. I try to be optimistic about economic data—and still believe that there are tremendous career opportunities for job seekers who understand where they fit in the labor market—but I am disappointed by these numbers.

Comparing the new projections to the old ones (2010–2020), we are seeing a significant decline in projected growth. According to the old forecast, we were to see 164 million jobs in 2020. The new projection calls for only 161 million jobs two whole years later. That is about 2.5 million jobs too few for the projected size of the labor force. Although that is much better than the difference between workers and jobs of nearly 10 million in 2012, wouldn’t it be better if there was a job for every worker?

The outlook for 19 of the 22 major job families has been downgraded with the largest downward revisions in Office & Administrative Support and Sales & Related Occupations. The bright spot in the revisions is in Management Occupations, for which end-year (2022) employment has been adjusted upward by 20,800 (3.4%).

My understanding (from a non-economist’s point of view) of the reason for the changes is that the economy in general is recovering from the Great Recession far more slowly than expected. Thus forecasted job growth has been revised downward.

6 Fastest-Growing Occupations for the New Year: Don’t Believe Them!

Tomorrow (Thursday, 12/19/13) the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release their Employment Projections for 2012–2022. Then you will see the writers begin to write about the hottest, best, or fastest-growing occupations for the next decade. Among the jobs that are hyped, you will see some really bad choices. Perhaps the list will include biomedical engineers with a 50+ percent growth rate. (No, I do not have an advance copy of the new projections; I am just guessing based on the old projections).

Why They May Be Bad Job Choices

Over the weekend a friend of mine told his teenage son that he would double his allowance if he would shovel the snow from the driveway. Why did his son refuse the offer? The dad does not even give him an allowance, and the young man realized that two times zero is still zero.

The same is true of some of the “fast-growing” occupations. If you take an occupation with a very small number of job openings and increase it by 50%, you are still going to end up with a very small number of openings. The 2010–2020 projections showed an annual average of 1,310 openings for biomedical engineers. That may seem like a large number, but when you divide it among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, it is far from being a “hot” job. For example, New York State’s share of the annual openings is only 30.

When a Decline Is Better Than an Increase

You would actually be better off pursuing a career as a postal service worker. With a double-digit decline, no one is going to place postal workers on their list of best jobs. However, the projections to 2020 showed an average of 12,630 yearly openings—nearly 10 times as many as biomedical engineers.

So when you see those articles about the fastest-growing occupations for the New Year, make sure that the writers are not trying to sell you on two times zero.

Image above from publicdomainpictures.net

Where Are the Skilled Workers? — Part 3

The Six Groups That You Should Actively Recruit

Diversity is no longer just a government requirement—it is a key recruiting strategy.  Here are some reasons why.  According to Current Population Survey data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), participation in the US labor force peaked in 2000 and has been declining ever since. The Labor Force Participation Rate experienced a sharp drop from 66% before the Great Recession to 63.7% in 2012 and is not projected to rebound any time soon. That means fewer working-age candidates for businesses to hire.

Labor Force Participation Rate

Why the Decline?

Simply put, the workforce is getting older. In 2010 there were 15.8 million workers aged 55 and over, according to BLS data. There are enough Millennials to replace the aging Baby Boomers who are about to retire. But will they be capable of doing the job?

The question of work experience aside, we have reason to be concerned about the large numbers of young people lacking basic skills. According to a recent report from the OECD, one-third of low-skilled individuals in the US are aged less than 35. So businesses will need a recruiting strategy that centers on finding skilled candidates within the major groups of available workers.

The Six Groups

1. Younger Workers—particularly the two-thirds of them that are not lacking in basic skills. You will need them to replace the retiring Baby Boomers.

2. Older Workers. If you cannot keep them on full time, can you bring them back part time or as consultants? The 55-and-older group is the only age demographic whose Labor Force Participation Rate increased in the last decade. So they just may be willing to stay on with you.

3. Women. According to the OECD report referenced above, two-thirds of younger (16–24), low-skilled individuals are men. So young women are more likely to have higher basic skills levels than their male counterparts. They may also be interested in the often higher-paying non-traditional occupations for women.

4. Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Labor Force numbers for white, non-Hispanic men have remained flat since 2000. In contrast, we have seen increases for every other group. Of particular note are the participation rates (2010) for Black or African-American women (59.9%, higher than any other group of women) and Hispanic or Latino men (77.8%, the highest of any racial/ethnic subgroup).

5. Individuals With Disabilities. Labor Force Participation for workers with disabilities is only around 20%. And among the other 80% many of them do want to work. That is evidenced by the Unemployment Rate for individuals with disabilities, which is about six points higher than the rate for people with no disability.

6. Veterans. Labor Force Participation for Veterans is about 51%, well below the rate for the general population. So if you actively recruit Veterans, you are likely to find workers with some solid, transferable skills.

Speaking of transferable skills, look out for the final article in this series, which will discuss the benefits of recruiting workers with skills in declining occupations. Click here for a link to the previous article.

Image at top from publicdomainpictures.net.