21 Million New Jobs by 2012?

21 Million New Jobs by 2012?

John Rossheim |

In 2002, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that the US economy will have created more than 21 million new government jobs by 2012. Here at GovCentral, we want to determine whether the BLS predicted government sector job growth accurately or not. If the trajectory of government job growth hasn’t been hitting the milestones forecast by the labor statistics, which industries are growing more slowly than expected?

Given that about 2 million jobs have been lost in the first two years of the forecast period, the labor economy would have to produce an average of nearly 250,000 openings a month through 2012 to reach this number issued in February 11, 2004.

“Eight years, 3 million jobs a year – no way,” says John Challenger, CEO of Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.

Three Job-Growth Areas: Services, Services, Services

The future of American jobs growth lies primarily in services. Service-providing industries will create 20.8 million of the 21.6 million new jobs expected through 2012, according to the BLS.

The government also predicts that, following the hollowing out of the manufacturing labor market from 1992 to 2002, in which millions of production jobs were lost, factory employment will stabilize – though not increase more than 1 percent – through 2012.

The construction industry, however, is expected to be a font of new jobs, creating more than a million opportunities over the forecast decade.

More Retirees and Older Workers

One of the most striking factoids in the BLS projections is that the age-55-and-up cohort of workers will grow about four times as quickly the labor force overall. Some of these older workers will choose to delay retirement; for others, a longer career will be a financial necessity. “There are going to be a lot of Baby Boomers who never saved for retirement,” says Peter Cohan, a Marlborough, Massachusetts, business consultant.

If demographic push comes to shove and – as has long been predicted – widespread worker shortages emerge, 35-year-old managers will have to get used to the idea of hiring professionals old enough to be their parents. Have human resources departments gotten hiring managers to acknowledge the future need to bring on and retain older workers? “No, companies are not ready for it,” says Lebovits.

Where in the economy will the aging American population create the most jobs? In expected places, like healthcare and government. But also in industries like leisure and hospitality, where arts, entertainment and recreation are projected to produce employment opportunities for an additional half-million people by 2012.

What About Offshoring, Anyway?

Observers cite recent spikes in productivity and the offshoring of white-collar jobs as factors that may not have been given sufficient weight by the BLS in its 10-year projections.

The government predicts, for example, that computer software engineers will rank near the top of occupations enjoying the fastest percentage growth. These mid-level knowledge workers are now threatened by a wave of offshoring that is reaching ever higher into professional ranks.

Challenger wonders how professionals in a field like software engineering – with typical salaries of $70,000 or $80,000 – will react to a new world order of globalized pay scales. “Will Americans take those software engineering jobs at $40,000?”

“There is clearly a failure to seek out correlations between outsourcing and current US employment projections,” says David Carpe, a business consultant in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Venture capitalists say they will not fund a company that does not have an offshore strategy.”

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