The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced in October 2017 a change to its methodology for calculating ten-year occupational employment projections. The new methodology considers estimates of both occupational separations as well as job growth within each industry.
In 2019, BLS also changed its release schedule for the ten-year employment projections. Those will be issued in early September prior to the start of school each year and on an annual basis going forward.
Projections of job growth provide valuable insight into future employment opportunities, because each new job created is an opening for a worker entering an occupation. However, opportunities also arise, when existing workers separate from their occupations, leaving vacant positions for new workers to fill.
In most occupations, openings due to separations of existing workers provide many more opportunities than overall job or employment growth does. Occupational separations occur when workers exit the labor force due to retirement, or when workers voluntarily separate to another occupation. That calculation estimates workers exiting the labor force due to retirement or other reasons, and separations caused by workers voluntarily transferring to different occupations.
BLS projects occupational separations using two different models - one for labor force exits and another for occupational transfers. Both models use a regression analysis of historical data to identify the characteristics of a worker, such as age and educational attainment, that make them likely to separate from their occupation. These patterns from historical data are then applied to the current distribution of employment for each occupation to project future separations.
State workforce agencies are advised that this methodology may result in different implications for labor planning and training projections. The separations methodology is based upon national data, and is meant to be used by states as a guide to state-level projections.
Annual Ten-Year Projections
The Employment Projections program has also made the following notable changes:
• Advancing the release date to September 4, a month and a half earlier than the prior release. This aligns the projections release with the start of the academic year, to increase relevancy for students, and also provides more timely data for all users.
• Incorporating matrix projections tables into the searchable database. In prior releases, BLS had 1000+ excel files to show detailed matrix data for each occupation and industry. Now these tables are automatically generated from the database – users access them the same way, though.
• Using annual projections processes rather than bi-annual. All staffing pattern research for this set of projections was done using new processes developed for annual projections. Their successful implementation allows BLS to be confident it can release the 2019-29 projections next year.