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Employment Projections
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Labor Force Projections Evaluation: 2004–2014

Labor force projections begin with civilian noninstitutional population (CNIP) estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, to which BLS applies our projected labor force participation rates. Errors in BLS labor force projections can therefore come from either source. For more information, refer to our evaluation methodology.

Limitations

In 2000 the Census added a new race category, "Two or more races," which limits BLS' ability to confidently evaluate the accuracy of our labor force projections by race. Due to the limited historical data available for this new category when BLS produced the 2004 projections, BLS used the categories from before 20001, which are not comparable to the categories published in 2014.2

Measuring accuracy

How often did BLS correctly project growth and decline for labor force segments?

BLS correctly projected which labor force segments would grow and which would decline about 97 percent of the time.3

How much did BLS project the labor force to grow between 2004 and 2014?

BLS projected the labor force to grow 10 percent between 2004 and 2014.

How much did the labor force actually grow?

The labor force actually grew 6 percent between 2004 and 2014.

What contributed to the difference?

BLS projected labor force participation rates that were slightly too high, on average. In particular, men aged 25–34 and women aged 45–61 had lower labor force participation rates than BLS projected.

Accuracy of the CNIP projections

The 2014 actual CNIP was similar to the projected CNIP, with an absolute difference of less than one percent, and relatively low dissimilarity indexes.

Table 1. CNIP dissimilarity indexes

Race

Sex

Dissimilarity index

All

All

1.2%

All

Male

1.4%

All

Female

1.3%

 

Accuracy of the labor force projections

In most cases, the naïve model outperformed the BLS projections.

Table 2. Absolute percent error by age group

Age

Actual 2014 labor force

Labor force projection

Absolute percent error

Best performer

BLS

Naïve

BLS

Naive

16 and 17

1,971

2,135

1,853

8.3%

6.0%

Naïve

18 and 19

3,683

4,108

4,008

11.5%

8.8%

Naïve

20 and 21

5,455

5,593

6,302

2.5%

15.5%

BLS

22 to 24

10,186

10,322

9,808

1.3%

3.7%

BLS

25 to 29

17,091

18,273

17,677

6.9%

3.4%

Naïve

30 to 34

17,108

18,482

17,993

8.0%

5.2%

Naïve

35 to 39

15,931

16,422

16,377

3.1%

2.8%

Naïve

40 to 44

16,574

16,923

16,924

2.1%

2.1%

BLS

45 to 49

16,638

17,612

17,370

5.9%

4.4%

Naïve

50 to 54

17,424

17,915

18,374

2.8%

5.5%

BLS

55 to 59

15,167

15,503

15,653

2.2%

3.2%

BLS

60 and 61

4,964

4,902

5,040

1.2%

1.5%

BLS

62 to 64

5,371

5,224

5,331

2.7%

0.7%

Naïve

65 to 69

4,774

5,058

5,124

5.9%

7.3%

BLS

70 to 74

2,071

1,884

1,894

9.0%

8.6%

Naïve

75 to 79

877

1,034

779

17.9%

11.2%

Naïve

80 and over

635

711

395

12.0%

37.8%

BLS

 

Examining the mean absolute percent errors and weighted mean absolute percent errors shown below in tables 3 and 4 reveals minor differences in the performance of the BLS projections and the naïve model. The smaller weighted mean absolute percent errors indicate that the BLS projections and the naïve model both made smaller errors in the larger population cohorts.

Table 3. Mean absolute percent error, labor force

Race

Sex

Mean absolute percent error

Best performer

BLS

Naïve

All

All

6.1%

7.5%

BLS

All

Male

7.5%

8.1%

BLS

All

Female

7.1%

7.7%

BLS

 

Table 4. Weighted mean absolute percent error, labor force

Race

Sex

Weighted mean absolute percent error

Best performer

BLS

Naïve

All

All

4.5%

4.5%

BLS

All

Male

5.3%

4.6%

Naïve

All

Female

4.2%

5.2%

BLS

 

Dissimilarity indexes provide another measure of accuracy, but as with the measures presented above, BLS projections performed similarly to the naïve model for the 2004–14 labor force projections.

Table 5. Labor force dissimilarity indexes

Race

Sex

BLS

Naïve

Best performer

All

All

1.3%

1.4%

BLS

All

Male

2.1%

1.6%

Naïve

All

Female

1.2%

2.4%

BLS

 

Note

1These categories are: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, White Hispanic, and White Non-Hispanic.

2These categories are: White, Black, Asian, Two or more, Hispanic, and White Non-Hispanic.

3Male and female, all detailed age groups.

 

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Last Modified Date: August 1, 2018