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February 2004, Vol. 127, No. 2
Employment projections to 2012: concepts and context
Michael W. Horrigan
This issue of the Monthly Labor Review presents the BLS employment outlook for the period from 2002 to 2012. The 2012 projections continue a longstanding tradition of BLS examinations of future job prospects dating back more than 50 years. First begun to assist returning World War II veterans back into the world of work, the BLS projections program has grown steadily from a project that reported simple descriptive material about available occupations to an undertaking encompassing a model-based approach that develops projections of the macroeconomy, the labor force, industry employment and output, and occupational employment growth.
The BLS projections are based on a long-term view of the U.S. economy that assumes a long-run full-employment economy in which labor markets clear. As a result, BLS projections address the question, "How would employment in industries and occupations grow if the economy were to operate at its full potential a decade from now?" In the article "The U.S. economy to 2012: signs of growth," which focuses on projected trends in the macroeconomy, Betty W. Su reports the results of a macroeconomic model according to which the overall U.S. economy is expected to grow from $9.4 trillion in 2002 to $12.6 trillion in 2012 (measured in chain-weighted 1996 dollars). This increase represents a growth rate of 3.0 percent per year in the real gross domestic product (GDP) of the economy. On the basis of the results from the macroeconomic model, the unemployment rate in 2012 is projected to be 5.2 percent and the annual rate of growth of productivity is expected to be 2.1 percent. Given these broad indicators of economic growth, the model used to describe macroeconomic activity provides detailed projections of four categories of expenditures: personal consumption, investment, government, and foreign trade. These projections are necessary as input to the industry projections that, in turn, form the basis of the occupational projections.
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