Employment Projections: 2016 to 2026

Every two years, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics updates their employment projections. The information appearing in this article was first published in January 2018, and includes job growth forecasts for the years 2016 through 2026.

This article is going to summarize some of the research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in conjunction with the Department of Labor. The information includes several projections, including workforce demographics, job growth trends, education, training, and replacements.

Workforce Demographics

According to this latest release, the civilian labor force is expected to grow by 7.4% over a ten-year timeframe from 156 million to nearly 168 million individuals.  This statistic includes all workers over the age of 16.  The fastest rate of growth will occur for individuals 55 and older, which will experience a 17.9% rate of growth. This increase is a direct result of an aging baby boomer population.

The labor force continues to grow in diversity too.  Back in 1994, Hispanics represented 9.5% of the workforce and this number is expected to grow to nearly 21% by 2026, which is a 116.0% increase over the next ten years.

Employment Growth Hot Spots

Between 2016 and 2026, the following six occupational groups are projected to provide over 50% of the new jobs growth rate:Between 2016 and 2026, the following six occupational groups are projected to provide over 50% of the new jobs growth rate:

  • Personal care aides
  • Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food
  • Registered nurses
  • Home health aides
  • Software developers, applications
  • Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners

The above occupations are expected to grow by nearly 2.7 million jobs over this ten-year timeframe.

Top Ten Fastest Growing Occupations

This first table of information includes the ten fastest growing occupations in terms of numbers of jobs created.

Top Ten Occupations in Terms of New Jobs Created

Occupation Thousands Of Jobs
Personal care aides 777.6
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 579.9
Registered nurses 438.1
Home health aides 431.2
Software developers, applications 255.4
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners 236.5
General and operations managers 205.2
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 199.7
Medical assistants 183.9
Waiters and waitresses 182.5

As the above table illustrates, the vast majority of new jobs will be in the personal care and home health aide occupations.  While the above table shows how many new jobs will be created from 2016 through 2026, there's another way to look at these projections.  The table below provides insights into the occupations that will experience the largest number of job openings.  This includes both the growth in the number of new jobs, plus the openings created when an existing job is in need of a replacement due to employee turnover.

Top Ten Occupations in Terms of Job Openings Created

Occupation Thousands of Openings
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 736.0
Retail salespersons 670.3
Waiters and waitresses 522.7
Personal care aides 414.3
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 388.4
Customer service representatives 373.5
Office clerks, general 356.2
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners 344.1
Stock clerks and order fillers 269.2
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive 244.3

A third way to look at this employment information has to do with growth rates.  Instead of defining a hot job as those positions with the largest number of openings, here it's defined as the percentage increase in the need for a particular job type.  For example, by 2026, the data tells us there will be 108% more insulation workers than there were in 2016.

Top Ten Fastest Growing Occupations

Occupation Increase over 10 Years
Solar photovoltaic installers 104.9%
Wind turbine service technicians 96.3%
Home health aides 47.3%
Personal care aides 38.6%
Physician assistants 37.3%
Nurse practitioners 36.1%
Statisticians 33.8%
Physical therapist assistants 31.0%
Software developers, applications 30.7%
Mathematicians 29.7%

It's also important to understand the training or education required for the above occupations.  Of the 11.1 million jobs that will be created from 2016 through 2026, 35.6% of them only require short-term on-the-job training.  This is because many of these positions include cashier, waiter / waitress, and retail jobs.

New Jobs by Training Requirements

Training New Jobs
None 49.50%
Short-term on-the-job training 35.62%
Moderate-term on-the-job training 7.53%
Long-term on-the-job training 2.63%
Internship/residency 2.38%
Apprenticeship 2.34%

Finally, as the table below demonstrates, over 35% of jobs only require a high school diploma.  As would be expected, jobs that do not require a high school diploma are the lowest paying jobs, while those requiring a doctoral degree pay nearly $100,000 per year.

New Jobs by Education

Education New Jobs Mean Salary
Associate's degree 3.45% $55,105
Bachelor's degree 29.31% $71,486
Doctoral or professional degree 4.83% $95,158
High school diploma or equivalent 27.26% $40,635
Master's degree 3.88% $74,612
No formal educational credential 20.63% $29,823
Postsecondary nondegree award 9.24% $44,958
Some college, no degree 1.41% $37,573

To gain a better understanding of how much any of the above mentioned jobs are worth; our article on the topic of high paying jobs contains salary information for hundreds of job types.


About the Author - Employment Projections: 2016 to 2026