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Employment Projections
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Industry Projections Evaluation: 2006–2016

BLS estimated models for roughly 200 detailed industries that were then summed to sectors and major sectors1. Detailed industry projections were constrained to sum to the total nonfarm wage and salary employment provided by the macroeconomic model.

Changes to the industry classification system presented a challenge in evaluating these sets of projections. Therefore, BLS analyzed only the 16 aggregate industry major sectors rather than the detailed industries published within the projections publications. For more information, refer to our evaluation methodology.

Measuring accuracy

How often did BLS correctly project growth and decline for industries?

BLS correctly projected which major industry would grow and which would decline 63 percent of the time.

The service–producing sector, representing over 80 percent of U.S. employment, was correctly projected to experience continued growth over the 2006–16 decade. However, within the service sectors, Information, Financial Activities, and Wholesale Trade were all expected to increase, but instead had slight declines and Federal Government, and Utilities were expected to decrease, but instead had slight gains. BLS correctly expected that the goods–producing sector would decline, however, BLS expected construction to grow, which instead declined.

What did BLS project as the nonagriculture wage and salary compound annual rate of growth from 2006 to 2016?

The projected compound annual growth rate from 2006 to 2016 was 1.0 percent.

What was the actual nonagriculture wage and salary compound annual rate of growth from 2006 to 2016?

The actual compound annual growth rate from 2006 to 2016 was 0.6 percent.

What contributed to the difference?

Since the macroeconomic model overprojected U.S. employment, industry sectors also tended to be projected higher than what was realized.

For each of the following measures the BLS projection was compared against this naïve model.

Table 1. All industry absolute percent error, 2006—16

Sector

Actual 2016 employment

Employment Projections

Absolute Percent Error

Best Performer

BLS

Naïve

BLS

Naïve

Nonfarm W&S

145,028

151,962

149,658

5%

3%

Naïve

 

The naïve model outperformed the BLS model for total nonagriculture wage and salary employment. However, the BLS model outperformed the naïve model in the majority of the major sectors in the absolute percent error measurement. The major sectors where the BLS model did not outperform the naïve model are Wholesale Trade, Information, Financial Activities, Professional and Business Services, and Leisure and Hospitality.

 

Table 2. Absolute percent error by major sector, 2006—16

Sector

Actual 2016 employment

Employment Projections

Absolute Percent Error

Best Performer

BLS

Naïve

BLS

Naïve

Mining

617

609

559

1%

9%

BLS

Construction

6,728

8,470

9,326

26%

39%

BLS

Manufacturing

12,354

12,695

9,797

3%

21%

BLS

Utilities

556

518

465

7%

16%

BLS

Wholesale trade

5,861

6,326

5,883

8%

0%

Naïve

Retail trade

15,826

16,006

16,353

1%

3%

BLS

Transportation and warehousing

5,015

4,962

4,765

1%

5%

BLS

Information

2,794

3,267

3,179

17%

14%

Naïve

Financial activities

8,287

9,570

9,565

15%

15%

Naïve

Professional and business services

20,052

21,644

20,542

8%

2%

Naïve

Educational services

3,570

3,527

3,802

1%

7%

BLS

Health care and social assistance

19,069

18,954

18,187

1%

5%

BLS

Leisure and hospitality

15,660

15,017

15,215

4%

3%

Naïve

Other services

6,415

7,077

7,141

10%

11%

BLS

Federal government

2,795

2,626

2,605

6%

7%

BLS

State and local government

19,429

20,696

22,276

7%

15%

BLS

 

Share analysis

Since aggregate employment was overprojected, detailed industries also tended to be overprojected. Comparing the projected share of the labor market with the actual share helps to address whether BLS correctly advised career-seeking customers which industry to pursue. BLS was more accurate than the naïve model in only eight of the sixteen major sectors.

Share in percent of employment by major sector: historical base year 2006, projected Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, and actual 2016  

Note

1Sectors and major sectors are aggregations of NAICS industries.

 

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Last Modified Date: August 1, 2018