Assessing the 1988-2000 employment growth projections

May 29, 2003

How accurate were the 1988-2000 employment outlooks that appeared in the 1990-91 Occupational Outlook Handbook?

Accuracy of 1988-2000 occupational employment growth descriptor projections, by number of categories
[Chart data—TXT]

The 1990-91 Handbook categorized projected occupational employment change between 1988 and 2000 with the following descriptors:

Growth descriptor Projected employment change
Much faster than average increase 31 percent or more
Faster than average increase 20 to 30 percent
About as fast as average increase 11 to 19 percent
More slowly than average increase 4 to 10 percent
Little or no change increase or decrease 3 percent or less
Decline decrease 4 percent or more

Of 338 occupations, 87 had actual employment changes that matched the projected descriptor; another 100 had employment changes that were a single category higher or lower. There were 74 occupations with employment changes that were 2 categories away from the projection; 49 that were 3 categories away, and 16 that were 4 away. There were 12 occupations that had employment changes 5 categories away—occupations projected to grow much faster than average that actually declined, or vice-versa.

These data are from the BLS Employment Projections program, which produces the Occupational Outlook Handbook. More information on the accuracy of employment projections can be found in "The 1988-2000 Employment Projections: How accurate were they?" by Andrew Alpert and Jill Auyer, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2003.

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Assessing the 1988-2000 employment growth projections on the Internet at (visited January 18, 2017).


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