Monday, October 17, 2016

Show Me the Economy

New Occupational Projections Available

Mark Knold, Supervising Economist
 “The government knows everything about everyone.” 

 Fortunately, that statement is not true. Yet society still looks to the government to provide answers to comprehensive and complex questions that have their foundation within individual decisions and activities. One subject frequently directed toward the government is individual-level information about the economy — particularly, what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon?

It takes the accumulation of a wide array of individual information to answer these questions. Employers provide the foundation information about the occupations they employ. Jobs are held by individuals, but employers provide the profile information about the job itself, not any particular individual.

Since society desires to profile such a broad spectrum of the economy — occupational profiles and the occupational distribution within the economy — only government is in the unique position to collect, analyze and provide answers for said desire. Yet, no government program or regulatory agency mandates any comprehensive occupational reporting from individuals or businesses. Therefore, government attempts to fill the void with an ongoing, robust and voluntary survey of employers — a survey where employers are asked to provide details about their various occupations, including descriptions, quantities, wages/salaries and location. Through this survey emerges an occupational portrait of an economy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) structures and funds the survey, yet the individual states conduct the survey. Under BLS administration, all states use the same methodology; therefore, occupational profiles are comparable across states.

Through this survey, analysts discover how industries are populated with various occupations. Accountant is an occupation, yet accountants can be found across many different industries. Other occupations may be more exclusive to certain industries; for example, doctors are largely found only in the healthcare industry. One of the survey’s products is that industries can be profiled with their general mix of occupations. This is called an industry’s occupational staffing pattern.

This brings us back to the original questions: what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon? The foundation is to make informed forecasts about how industries will expand/contract over the next 10 years. By applying existing occupational staffing patterns to each industry’s projected change, a trained economic analyst can then make an extrapolation about how occupations will correspondingly increase/decrease. Knowledgeable analyst judgment further refines the occupational expectations, such as knowing an occupation will grow faster than in the past, with the result being a set of occupational projections that accumulate to profile a state or regional economy.

A new set of occupational projections are done every two years to keep the information fresh even though economies do not change dramatically in short order. Because of slow change, updated occupational projects generally continue the overall message of preceding occupational projections. But economies do modify with time, and therefore, subtle changes will arise with each new set of occupational projections.

Utah’s most recent occupational projections are found here: These projections look forward to the year 2024.

The occupational profile is structured from the general to the detailed, mimicking the structure of a family tree. First, broad occupational categories are defined, such as management or healthcare occupations; then, subcategories are defined; and finally, individual occupations are defined. Individual occupations are the heart of the occupational projections. But overall patterns and characteristics do emerge when observing the broader categories.

While a Utah statewide profile leads the way, Utah’s local economies are not homogenous; therefore, nine Utah subregions are also profiled. Due to confidentiality restraints and statistical reliability, the amount of occupations available will diminish the smaller a subregion; but, occupations comprising the backbone of a regional economy will be available.

Central Region 

Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist 

The Central Utah projection region consists of Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties. Central Utah’s employment base is expected to growth at an average annual rate of 1.1 percent between 2014 and 2024. While that rate of expansion is the second-slowest in the state and falls far below the Utah average of 2.7 percent, slower expansion is not uncommon among Utah’s less-populated areas.

Over the 10-year projection period, Central Utah is expected to create 850 job openings each year. Slower-than-average growth means the need to replace workers leaving occupations will likely generate 66 percent of these openings, while new openings from growth will account for only 34 percent. Statewide, new growth is expected to produce a larger share (54 percent) of total openings.

Occupational groups with the largest current employment are expected to also generate the largest number of job openings between 2014 and 2024. Food preparation/serving and sales occupations should show the highest number of openings in Central Utah. These occupations also tend to have high replacement needs. Other occupations projected to show many openings include transportation/material moving, office/administrative support (e.g., clerical), education/training/library and management. On the other hand, the fastest growth occupational groups should be construction/extraction (e.g., mining) and production occupations.

Two occupational groups, architecture/engineering and community/social service are expected to experience slight declines in employment although they will still produce openings because of replacement needs. Other slow growing occupations include legal, protective service, office/administrative support and personal care/service occupations. Despite a low growth rate, office/administrative support occupations will still supply a large number of openings due to current employment levels and replacement needs.

Because many jobs in the Central Utah economy currently require little education and many of these positions have high replacement needs, jobs requiring a high school education or less are expected to account for 71 percent of total openings. Jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or a high school education should show the fastest growth rates.

Individual occupations projected to produce a high volume of openings in Central Utah often pay lower-than-average wages. This is a pattern common statewide. For example, in Central Utah fast food workers, cashiers, waiters/waitresses and janitors rank among the highest opening-producing occupations. However, general/operations managers, transportation managers, heavy truck drivers, registered nurses and school teachers should also produce a large number of openings in the area.

In an attempt to help provide career guidance, the Department of Workforce Services has attached star ratings to most occupations. These ratings take into account both employment opportunities (openings and growth rate) and wages. In Central Utah, a wide variety of occupations received the five-star rating, which denotes the best employment outlook and wages in the area. The list runs the gamut from registered nurses to accountants to heavy truck drivers. For more information about star ratings detailed occupational projections, see the links in the data visualization.