The U.S. economy is projected to add 11.5 million jobs over the next decade, with about one-third coming from the rapidly growing health care field, according to government estimates released Tuesday.
If realized, the estimate for the 2016-26 period would reflect a faster pace than the previous decade, which suffered the effects of the Great Recession from 2007-09, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
With the population aging and demand for services growing, the economy likely will add nearly four million new health care and social assistance positions, according to the bureau. That would mean that about 1 in every 5 jobs would be related to the industry.
More specifically, the highest total job growth is expected to come for personal care aides, a profession that now has just over 2 million workers now but will have nearly 2.8 million in 2026, a gain of 37.4 percent, the BLS, a division of the Department of Labor, estimates.
In percentage terms, the biggest growth will come from solar panel installers at 105.3 percent — from 11,300 now to 23,200.
The projections come amid the slowest year for job growth since 2010, as the economy was still reeling from the financial crisis, which came to a head in 2008.
The headline unemployment rate continues to fall — at 4.2 percent, it's the lowest since February 2001 — and the level of employed Americans hit a fresh record of 154.3 million in September.
However, the total growth in nonfarm payrolls has been lackluster, up 1.3 million for the year representing a 26 percent decline over the same period in 2016. Most economists believe the job market is nearing a point of full employment, or the level where almost all of those willing to work have jobs.
Still, there remains about 6.1 million job openings, a record level and indicative of an economy that likely has room to expand.
The BLS projects that the labor force will expand 0.6 percent a year to 169.7 million in 2026, less than the long-term average, and will be coupled by slowing growth in the labor force. Also, the labor force participation rate is expected to decline from its current 63.1 percent to 61 percent. The decline of that number has been a key ingredient in the unemployment rate falling from its recession high of 10 percent.
Along with the aging population will come an older workforce, with the 55-and-older group expected to account for about 1 in 4 workers, up from 16.8 percent in 2006.
Almost all of the new jobs are projected to come from services-related industries — nearly 9 in 10 — with goods-producing industries expected to contribute just 219,000 for the period.
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