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November 2007, Vol. 130, No. 11
An overview of BLS projections to 2016
James C. Franklin
The BLS projections of the U.S. economy to 2016 present an economy with steady but slowing growth. Growth in the population, and therefore the labor force, is expected to slow. As the baby boomers age, so too does the population, but also, the boomers begin their transition into retirement. Productivity growth is expected to maintain a pace slower than the late 1990s and early 2000s but one faster than the period from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Together, these trends combine to produce an expectation of gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.8 percent per year, slower than the 1996–2006 annual growth of 3.1 percent.
On a biennial basis, BLS prepares a set of 10-year projections of industry and occupational employment. The current projections to 2016 are the 20th in the series.1 In this issue, four articles examine, in detail, the main aspects of these projections: the aggregate economy; the labor force; industry output and employment; and occupational employment and job openings.2 The U.S. economic trends projected over the 2006–16 decade arise from methods that include both analytical judgment and econometric models, and rest on assumptions that are explicit and implicit to the projections methods.
These projections provide information for individuals seeking career guidance and for organizations and individuals that offer career guidance resources. In addition, policymakers, community planners, and educational authorities who need information for long-term policy planning purposes make use of the BLS employment projections. BLS projections also are used by States in preparing State and local area projections.
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1 The 20 projection groups span projections to 1970, published in 1966, to the current projections to 2016. They represent a unified set of aggregate economic, labor force, industry, and occupational demand projections presented as a series of linked outlook estimates. The occupational demand projections predate these unified sets of projections by 17 years with the first publication of the Occupational Outlook Handbook in 1949. A series of articles published in the May 1999 issue of the Monthly Labor Review takes a comprehensive look at the history of the occupational projections program in BLS. These are available at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1999/05/contents.htm (visited Nov. 19, 2007).
2 See in this issue, Betty Su, "The U.S. economy to 2016: slower growth as boomers begin to retire," pp. 13–32; Mitra Toossi, "Labor force projections to 2016: more workers in their golden years," pp. 33–52; Eric Figueroa and Rose Woods, "Industry output and employment projections to 2016," pp. 53–85; and Arlene Dohm and Lynn Shniper, "Occupational employment projections to 2016: less production, more health care jobs," pp. 86–125.
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