2022 seems like such a far away time.  So far away my fingers have no muscle memory to type 2022 as a date.  Go ahead and try it.

But it’s really just eight years from now.  Think about what you were doing in 2006 (much easier date to type).  That was just eight years ago.  And in eight years the labor market will change by quite a bit.  Some of it in ways we can’t predict.  But in some ways we can.  Below is a chart with the data sourced from the BLS’s own projections.  It shows job growth in total numbers from 2012 to 2022.

2012-2022 projected employment growth number

Interesting that must of the added jobs will come from people with very little eduction.  In fact, excluding a couple of categories, the less education one has, the more jobs will be available.  This laughs in the face of what we hear from the media, politicians, and civic leaders.  We’re told we need a bunch of education to be prepared for this workforce of the future.  So what gives?

Those expectations are likely presented based on a growth in percentages.  See, right now about 42% of the population over 25 has at most a high school education.  And their unemployment rate is at 6.5%.  Compare that to 25 and olders with a college degree being at 3.2%.  You would hope there might be some job growth for the folks with less education.  But they’re just playing catch up.  Now check out what growth looks like in percentages.

2012-2022 projected employment growth percent

Now the story is a lot different.  Now it looks like there’s a lot of opportunity for people with advanced degrees and education.  This could contribute to a widening wage gap as more and more new jobs become available to people who already have them.  If all the percentage growth is in areas that require higher degrees than high school and the population continues slow progress in educational attainment then there is the possibility of skills gap.

So how do you plan for the future of job growth?  Clearly getting educated (the right kind of educated) won’t hurt.  But education isn’t everything.  Location is big too (just ask any Realtor).  The folks at The Atlantic Cities put together a bunch of maps like the one below.  This one is just the summary.  It maps out expected job growth in every major metropolitan area.

Job growth in major metropolitan areas 2012-2022

The good news first.  Job growth is expected everywhere.  Now the bad news, not all cities are created equal.  The Rust Belt is expecting relatively low job growth.  That’s not very surprising.  Silicon Valley isn’t in the highest bracket for growth and that’s surprising.  But regions in south and southwest are expecting good growth.  The major growth areas are concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic space and northeastern section of the country.

Growth is a relative term though.  If an area has high unemployment, then job growth may just be catch-up.  Some of these colors make sense, other require some thought in order to figure out why growth may not be what is expected.  Look at Atlanta, growth is expected to be slow.  Is it because it’s too crowded, lack of innovation, unfavorable tax/business policy, or just already at a high level of employment?

When we think about the future of jobs, there’s certainly a lot to process.  There’s probably a job or two available in that space too.


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categories: economics, education, jobs