Popular Economics Weekly

Many well-paying American jobs are not disappearing—neither into computers, nor overseas, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And there will be a terrific need to repair and rebuild our aging infrastructure—to the tune of $2 trillion over the next 5 years if we want to bring it up to standard, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Total employment is expected to increase by 10 percent from 2008 to 2018. However, the 15.3 million jobs expected to be added by 2018 will not be evenly distributed across major industry and occupational groups. Changes in consumer demand, improvements in technology, and many other factors will contribute to the continually changing employment structure of the U.S. economy.

Many will be service jobs—in health care, construction, and professional services followed by business, management and financial services. The shift in the U.S. economy away from goods-producing in favor of service-providing is expected to continue, says the BLS. Service-providing industries are anticipated to generate approximately 14.5 million new wage and salary jobs in the next 10 years. As with goods-producing industries, growth among service-providing industries will vary.

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Construction. Employment in construction is expected to rise 19 percent. Demand for commercial construction and an increase in road, bridge, and tunnel construction will account for the bulk of job growth.

Manufacturing. Overall employment in this sector will decline by 9 percent as productivity gains, automation, and international competition adversely affect employment in most manufacturing industries. Employment in household appliance manufacturing is expected to decline by 24 percent over the decade. Similarly, employment in machinery manufacturing, apparel manufacturing, and computer and electronic product manufacturing will decline as well. However, employment in a few manufacturing industries will increase. For example, employment in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing is expected to grow by 6 percent by 2018; however, this increase is expected to add only 17,600 new jobs.

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It’s no surprise therefore that college degrees will be even more necessary for future employment. Bachelor degree holders and higher have just a 4 percent unemployment rate, those with some College or an Associate Degree hover around 8 percent unemployment, while High School grads or less educated are above 10 percent.

Occupations in the associate degree category are projected to grow the fastest, at about 19 percent. In addition, occupations in the master’s and first professional degree categories are anticipated to grow by about 18 percent each, and occupations in the bachelor’s and doctoral degree categories are expected to grow by about 17 percent each. However, occupations in the on-the-job training categories are expected to grow by 8 percent each.

Harlan Green © 2011