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Winter 2003-04 Vol. 47, Number 4

Introduction to the projections

Introduction to the projections


Fluctuation in the U.S. economy is nothing new. When it comes to the things we produce and the work we perform, in fact, the one constant is change. The predominant industries and occupations of the present—and the future—are different from those of 100 years, 60 years, and even 10 years ago:

  • At the turn of the last century, 40 percent of all U.S. workers were employed in agriculture. Today, fewer than 2 percent work in that industry.
  • At their height during World War II, manufacturing industries employed nearly 4 of every 10 workers in this country. By 2002, the figure had fallen to 1 of every 9 workers.
  • In 1994, there were about 1.4 million computer specialists. By the end of the decade, that number had more than doubled, rising to more than 2.9 million workers.
  • Over the 2002-12 decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in healthcare occupations will grow by 2.9 million, an increase of about 29 percent.

The pace of employment change is not always so dramatic, especially in the shorter term. But because of the dynamic nature of the U.S. economy, the speed of technological innovation, and the changing demands for skills by employers, it is essential that the best and latest information is made available to individuals who are making decisions about education, training, and careers.

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: June 10, 2004