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Occupational employment projections to 2022

January 07, 2014

Total employment in the U.S. economy is projected to grow by 15.6 million during the 2012–2022 decade to reach 161 million; this represents a 10.8-percent employment increase. Some of the fastest projected growth will occur in the healthcare, healthcare support, construction, and personal care fields. Together, these four occupational groups are expected to account for about one-third—more than 5.3 million—of all new jobs during this period.


Employment by occupational group, 2012 and projected 2022
Occupational group2012Projected change, 2012–2022

Healthcare practitioners and technical


Office and administrative support


Construction and extraction


Healthcare support


Personal care and service


Food preparation and serving related


Sales and related


Education, training, and library


Business and financial operations


Transportation and material moving


Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance


Computer and mathematical




Installation, maintenance, and repair


Community and social service


Protective service


Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media


Architecture and engineering




Life, physical, and social science




Farming, fishing, and forestry


BLS projections are intended to represent long-term structural changes in the economy. For example, the healthcare field is growing because of the long-term trends of an aging population and improved diagnosing and treatment options.

However, occupations in some fields are growing quickly as they recover from the 2007–2009 recession. These occupations' starting employment levels were unusually low, resulting in higher growth rates than historically seen in these occupations as they return to long-term trends by 2022. Many construction occupations are experiencing this type of growth.

BLS categorizes detailed occupations in 22 major occupational groups using the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Occupations in each group share similar duties or goals; for example, legal occupations include lawyers, judges, and support workers in the legal field. Eight of these occupational groups are projected to each add at least 1 million jobs.Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are projected to add the most: 1.7 million. Only one group of occupations is projected to decline: farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. With fewer than a million jobs in 2012, this group is already the smallest of the occupational groups and is projected to shrink 3.4 percent, shedding 32,200 jobs.

Occupations can be classified by the level of education typically needed for entry-level positions. While BLS does not make projections by education level, the Monthly Labor Review article analyzes the educational assignments for each occupation to estimate projected growth by education level. Employment projections for different education levels are built from the occupational projections by adding together the projected employments of occupations that have the same education levels. Looking at growth by education provides insight into opportunities for workers with various levels of educational attainment.

Employment by educational requirement, 2012 and projected 2022
Education levelEmploymentProjected change, 2012–2022

Master’s degree


Associate’s degree


Doctoral or professional degree


Postsecondary nondegree award


Bachelor’s degree


Some college, no degree


Less than high school


High school diploma or equivalent


Occupations that typically require a master's degree for entry are projected to grow the fastest, 18.4 percent, from 2012 to 2022. This growth is largely a result of the concentration of these occupations in the fast-growing healthcare and social assistance industry, which is projected to add a combined 255,000 of the 448,500 new jobs in occupations requiring a master's degree.

The second fastest growing group of occupations, at 17.6 percent, is those requiring an associate’s degree. As with master’s degree occupations, part of the reason for rapid growth in associate’s degree occupations is because of how common these occupations are in the healthcare and social assistance industry. This industry is expected to account for 846,800 of the 1.0 million new jobs requiring an associate's degree. Registered nurses, an occupation that typically requires an associate’s degree, is projected to add 526,800 new jobs and account for much of this growth.

These data are from the BLS Employment Projections program. For more information, see the Monthly Labor Review article, "Occupational employment projections to 2022," by Emily Richards and Dave Terkanian, December 2013. 


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Occupational employment projections to 2022 at (visited December 02, 2022).