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America's Jobs Are Changing


Economic Trends

America's Jobs Are Changing

But less than you might think

Although the creative destruction affecting the U.S. economy has caused some radical changes in job requirements and definitions, the underlying structure of the labor market is evolving at a far less dramatic pace. That seems to be one implication of the Labor Dept.'s latest projections, which look ahead to the final years of the next decade.

Between 1998 and 2008, say the experts, the economy will add 20.3 million jobs. While almost all of the gains will be in the services-producing industries, the goods-producing sector won't lose jobs, as rising construction employment offsets declines in mining and manufacturing.

Aided by strong productivity growth, manufacturing will maintain its share of national output and shed only 89,000 jobs, compared with 542,000 in the prior decade. Federal payrolls will continue to shrink, but states and localities are expected to add some 2 million jobs.

As in the prior decade, two of the fastest-growing and largest sectors are expected to be health services and computer and data-processing services, whose gains are pegged at 2.9 million and 1.9 million jobs, respectively. Also, the temporary help industry is expected to rise by more than 40%, to 4.6 million.

Looking at individual occupations, all of the five fastest-growing are computer related, with the third-fastest--systems analyst--also posting the heftiest projected growth in numbers of workers. Some occupations, such as those related to retail trade, will also generate large numbers of additional positions because of their relative size in the economy (chart).

The shifting employment picture will necessarily entail an upgrading in workers' skills. Labor Dept. economists estimate that 40% of job growth from 1998 to 2008 will be in occupations requiring at least a two-year associate's degree. And a third will be in occupations requiring a bachelor's degree or higher.

But that doesn't mean that the educational profile of the labor market will change dramatically. Of some 55 million job openings created by both growth and replacement needs over the decade, job growth itself will account for just 37%, with 63% created by retirements and deaths. Thus, the percent of jobs in the economy requiring at least an associate's degree is expected to rise only modestly, from 25.5% to 27.3%.By Gene KoretzReturn to top

TABLE

U.S. Job Growth: The Coming Decade

OCCUPATIONS ADDED JOBS REPLACEMENTS*

PROJECTING 1998-2008 1998-2008

BIGGEST GAINS (thousands) (thousands)

SYSTEMS ANALYSTS 577 39

RETAIL SALESPERSONS 563 1,375

CASHIERS 556 1,394

GENERAL MANAGERS

& TOP EXECUTIVES 551 589

TRUCK DRIVERS 493 426

OFFICE CLERKS 463 837

REGISTERED NURSES 451 343

*Due to retirements and deaths

DATA: BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

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Are the Rich Getting Stingy?

Giving isn't growing with incomes

In recent years, Americans at the high end of the income scale have become a lot wealthier. So you might think they'd be happily shelling out a bit more of their incomes to charities. Not so, according to the latest survey by the Independent Sector, a coalition of voluntary organizations.

The nationwide survey found that the 48% of poor households (incomes under $10,000) that made gifts in 1998 were the most generous, contributing an average of 5.2% of their incomes. At the same time, the 89% of affluent families making gifts (incomes above $100,000) ponied up just 2.2% of their incomes.

But the biggest surprise was the change in relative generosity. Since 1993, the poorest group has nearly doubled its average donation as a percent of income, while the next lowest (incomes of $10,000 to $20,000) increased its average gift from 2.3% to 3.3%. In contrast, the two highest income groups (those over $100,000, and those from $75,000 to $100,000) reduced theirs from 3.2% and 2% of their incomes, respectively, to just 2.2% and 1.6%.By Gene KoretzReturn to top


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