Employment Growth in the 2020s



By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

More jobs will be created in the American economy during the remainder of the decade but the growth will be rather minimal. That's according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Students can use the data from BLS to help plan coursework and target promising industries for future employment.  

BLS said employment is projected to grow from 153.5 million to 165.4 million jobs from 2020 to 2030, reflecting an annual increase of about .7%.  Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is projected to increase the fastest, with 7 of the 20 fastest growing industries.  This anticipated growth will be fueled by recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic since employment by restaurants, hotels, arts, cultural, and recreational businesses has declined precipitously during the public health crisis. 

Healthcare and social assistance is projected to add the most jobs of all industry sectors during the remainder of the decade according to BLS, with about 3.3 million additional jobs. Within healthcare, employment in the individual and family services industry will increase the fastest due to rising demand for the care of an aging baby-boom population, longer life expectancies, and continued growth in the number of patients with chronic conditions.

BLS reports that technological advancements are expected to support strong employment growth in professional, business, and scientific services industries including computer systems design and related services as well as management, scientific, and technical consulting.

One other sector that is expected to provide fast job growth is computer and mathematical occupations with strong demand for IT security and software development, in part due to increased prevalence of telework. Demand for new products associated with the “Internet of Things” and for analyzing and interpreting large datasets are also expected to contribute to fast employment growth for statisticians, information security analysts, and data scientists 

On the other side of the ledger, the retail trade is projected to lose 586,800 jobs over the decade, the most of any sector. BLS suggests the growth of e-commerce and subsequent decline in brick-and-mortar retailing is the driving factor in that anticipated job loss.

Manufacturing will have a mixed bag when it comes to employment in the decade.  While some recovery-driven employment growth in the sector is forecasted, manufacturing also contains 11 of the 20 industries projected to have the most rapid employment declines due to continued global competition and increased adoption of robotics.

BLS also forecasts declining employment opportunities during the 2020s for office and administrative support, sales, and production occupations due to increased automation.

You can find out more about these and hundreds of other occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook that BLS updates on an annual basis.  Each occupation profile includes an overview of work activity, wages, education and training requirements, as well as the projections for future opportunities in the field.  Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook at www.bls.gov/ooh.