The main factor affecting occupational growth rates is the growth rate of the industries in which they are employed. But over time, industries also change the mix of occupations used to create their output. Occupational projections incorporate changes to both those factors. For more information, refer to our evaluation methodology.
How often did BLS correctly project growth and decline for occupations?
BLS correctly projected whether an occupation would grow or decline 86 percent of the time.
What did BLS project as the average growth rate from 2002 to 2012?
The projected average growth rate for occupations from 2002 to 2012 was 14.8 percent.
What was the actual average growth rate?
The actual average growth rate for occupations from 2002 to 2012 was 0.9 percent.
What contributed to the difference?
The recession of 2007–2009 reduced employment and slowed employment growth. Employment levels and the unemployment rate had not yet recovered from the recession. BLS projections assume full employment.
Was BLS able to project which occupations would grow relatively faster in spite of the differences between projected and actual growth?
BLS correctly projected which occupations would grow faster than the economy as a whole 57 percent of the time.
An important way to evaluate any projection is to compare it against other, similar projections. This is not possible for occupational projections because there are no comparable projections which are not in some way derived from BLS projections. When no comparable projection exists another way of evaluating is to compare against a naïve model. The occupational evaluation uses the occupational–share naïve model.
In addition to detailed occupations, occupational projections were evaluated for:
These two evaluations show how well BLS projected groups of related occupations.
Each was compared to the occupational–share naïve model by summing the absolute differences from the actual result.
Which performed better
Sum of absolute differences
BLS has a smaller sum of absolute differences for all major groups combined
Count of better score
BLS had a smaller sum of absolute differences for most major group
Which performed better
Business and financial operations occupations
Computer and mathematical occupations
Architecture and engineering occupations
Life, physical, and social science occupations
Community and social services occupations
Education, training, and library occupations
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations
Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations
Healthcare support occupations
Protective service occupations
Food preparation and serving related occupations
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations
Personal care and service occupations
Sales and related occupations
Office and administrative support occupations
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations
Construction and extraction occupations
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations
Transportation and material moving occupations
Data compared here were affected by the introduction of the 2010 Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system which resulted in 81 out of 840 occupations not being comparable between 2002 and 2012. Definitional changes associated with the new classification system may also have had a limited impact on occupations that were deemed comparable.
Coverage of employment changed in 2008 when Employment Projections stopped producing estimates for secondary employment.
The 2002–2012 projections included 29 non–SOC occupations which were not collected by the OES program in subsequent years. Without 2012 employment levels, no comparison was possible for these occupations.
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Last Modified Date: August 1, 2018