About 15 months ago—October 8, 2021—we reported on the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) job market projections for 2030. Today, while researching another project, we found that the DOL updated its projections in September of 2022. Although the changes are small, the update is welcome because we are closer to the post-pandemic era. .
Now, the DOL has extended its projections to the year 2031 instead of 2030. Jobs the Department projects to have the greatest increase in employment by 2031 continue to represent include information technology, healthcare, housekeeping, facilities maintenance, food service, truck driving, market research, and senior leaders.
Salaries for the top 20 growth occupations continue to vary widely. You’ll earn more in jobs that require higher skill levels, but you will have opportunities going forward regardless of your education and experience.
The top 20 job categories, updated by DOL in September 2022, are included in the table below, along with median salaries.
DOL Job Title
|Employment Change (000)||Percent Change||Median Salary|
|Home health and personal care aides||924.0||25.4||$29,430|
|Fast food and counter workers||243.2||7.6||$25,100|
|General and operations managers||209.8||6.7||$97,970|
|Waiters and waitresses||197.0||10.3||$26,000|
|Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand||168.4||6.0||$31,230|
|Stockers and order fillers||157.9||6.4||$30,110|
|Market research analysts and marketing specialists||150.3||19.0||$63,920|
|First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers||145.7||13.3||$36,570|
|Medical and health services managers||136.2||28.3||$101,340|
|Maids and housekeeping cleaners||116.4||9.4||$28,780|
|Light truck drivers||110.7||10.0||$38,280|
|Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers||90.9||4.3||$48,310|
Many high-growth jobs cannot be outsourced.
The first thing that jumped out at us when we looked at the listing in 2021 was that service industry jobs were at or near the top of the list. Service jobs continue to be near the top of DOL’s updated list. Specifically, three of the top four jobs include home healthcare aides, restaurant cooks, and fast food workers. Restaurant waiters and waitresses are sixth on the list. (Home care workers are, of course, essential healthcare workers, too.)
All baby-boomers will be 65 years of age or more in 2030, according to the US Census, so it’s no surprise that demand for caregivers will increase about 924,000 workers, or more than 25% by 2031.
Homecare jobs cannot be outsourced. We doubt anyone wants a robot to care for them, either. So, that’s probably why the job appears on top of the growth jobs list.
Restaurant and fast-food work cannot he outsourced to offshore workers, so it is also easy to see why there will be job growth approaching 37% for restaurant cooks. No doubt, the fast-food and restaurant industries would like to have robots flip burgers and serve them, but it could be cheaper to have people do the jobs. After all, the median wage for cooks was $30,010 in 2021, and only $26,000 for wait-staff! First-line supervisors of food workers are also on the high-growth list (at 11th place), and earned a median salary of $36,570 in 2021. Bartenders made the list, too, in 20th place with a 2021 median wage of $26,350. Although Black & Decker advertises a robotic bartender on TV, conversing with the bartender seems to be part of the experience, so it’s doubtful this job will be fully automated anytime soon.
Other service jobs on the list include housekeepers and janitorial occupations. Robots can do some cleaning jobs (You may have seen them in grocery stores and hospitals), but wages are low, so it may be more economical to continue paying people for these roles. And no one can “phone it in” from overseas.
Highest salaries continue to be in technology and leadership roles.
Last September’s update from DOL indicates, as before, that high-growth occupations in software development, operations management, and healthcare management had median salaries near or above $100,000 per year in 2021. Jobs in software development require skills that not everyone possesses. General management jobs normally require many years of experience, and the talent to lead people.
Although the DOL projects high employment growth rates for software development and leadership roles, the Department does not project future salaries in its tables. Leadership and software jobs have commanded high salaries for many years so we can reasonably expect this trend to continue.
Important professional jobs are also on the list.
The mid-range on the top 20 growth list, from a salary point of view, include jobs such as registered nurses, with a median wage of more than $77,600 per year, and market researchers with median annual earnings just under $64,000 per year.
Heavy truck and tractor-trailer driving jobs also made the list with median wages of more than $48,000 annually.
Although truck drivers earn less than many in professions requiring college degrees, it is a category that, based on our experience in workforce development programs, is perennially in demand. A job developer at a workforce program in New York once told me that when she sent jobseekers for the required training, they landed jobs and never returned for additional services.
Use the source.
It is worth looking at the sources of this data even if none of the occupations and professions on the top 20 growth occupations list interest you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics at the US Department of Labor has a great deal of data regarding employment trends. Much of it is publicly accessible on their Web site. Their data is in the public domain, so you can download it at no cost, and use their Excel spreadsheets to analyze their data anyway you want.
Statistics are just the start. The Occupational Outlook Handbook and a government-supported site called O-Net are great sources of information about occupations and professions. So once you find out what jobs are in demand, use these sources to learn whether you qualify, and gain some insight into whether or not you will like and excel in the work.
There is good news and bad news in the updated statistics. Our good news is that the information economy of the 21st Century will continue generating jobs at all skill levels, partly due to an aging population. The bad news is that the service jobs available for those without the aptitude or training for high-wage technical, leadership, and healthcare jobs offer much lower salaries. Fast-food jobs, for example, paid about 22% of the median wage earned by a software developer in 2021. In other words, not all high-growth jobs will offer good wages.