The Ten-Year Occupational Employment Projections Methodology
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.
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.
Please see a detailed technical description on the Employment Separation Methods website, providing specifics on the data sources and model specifications.
The separations methodology accounts for different types of job changes to ensure our projections reflect today's dynamic workforce. These changes may produce very different projections from previous surveys because of the new methodology.
State workforce agencies are advised that this methodology may have implications for state WIOA plans and other employment projections. The separations methodology is based upon national data, and is meant to be used by states as a guide to state-level projections.