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What Employment Data Mean for the Future of Staffing

ASA researchers analyzed the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections and extracted key takeaways specifically for staffing companies. Here is how that data—and the trends they support—could affect your business this year, next year, and beyond.

The impact of the persisting pandemic has been felt far and wide, most notably relative to the labor market and the resulting strain on the economy. While there are no crystal balls and forecasts are changing constantly based on pandemic “what if” scenarios, growth-focused company leaders cannot afford to pause planning for business recovery, expansion, and success.

Keeping close watch on trends and projections—especially as they pertain to staffing and recruiting—can go a long way toward making strategic business decisions that can fuel growth and increase margins.

This industry-focused analysis of the latest employment projections explores sector and occupational growth trends through 2029. Based on findings from a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report published in September 2020, this analysis concentrates on the staffing industry in the context of nonfarm wage and salary workers for the top job-creating sectors and fastest-growing occupations, with notes on the potential impact of the pandemic on these projections.

(Note: The 2019–29 BLS employment projections do not include potential impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic as these long-term estimates are based on historical data with a forecasting model intended to capture structural changes rather than cyclical fluctuations in the economy.)

Top Growth Sectors

With the labor market in such flux, looking at the BLS data in the context of sectors is a must for strategic planning and business development. Here is a sector-specific look at where the BLS numbers show the greatest job growth potential.

Health care. What BLS calls the health care and social assistance sector is projected to have the most employment growth of any industry, with an increase of nearly 3.1 million jobs—reaching 23.5 million jobs by 2029. This sector is expected to grow at a 1.4% annual rate—the fastest growing major sector in the economy.

Growth factors contributing to the increase in health care employment include greater demand from the aging baby-boomer generation, longer life expectancies, and the rise in people affected by chronic conditions.

Professional and business services. Employment in the professional and business services sector is projected to grow 0.7% annually to nearly 22.8 million jobs in 2029. The increase of more than 1.5 million jobs is expected to be driven by technology advancements to support rapid employment growth in the professional, business, and scientific services sectors, including computer systems design and related services as well as management, scientific, and technical consulting services.

The employment services industry, which comprises employment placement agencies, temporary help services, and professional employer organizations, is the largest portion of the professional and business services sector. Employment services are projected to expand to just over 3.6 million jobs. While slower growth is expected than in previous projections, demand for staffing services is anticipated to continue.

Following Fast-Growing Jobs

Now let’s look at the 10 specific jobs that are projected to grow substantially during this decade.

Renewable energy occupations. Increased advances in renewable energy technologies are expected to drive employment growth for wind turbine technicians and solar photovoltaic installers—occupations with two of the highest projected growth rates, at 60.7% and 50.5%, respectively. As demand for alternative energy sources continues to rise, occupations within this sector will see rapid growth.

Health care occupations. Health care and related occupations, including mental health, account for 13 of the 30 occupations with the greatest projected growth from 2019 to 2029. The fastest growing among these occupations are nurse practitioners and occupational therapy assistants, with respective growth rates of 52.4% and 34.6%.

Other health care occupations projected to expand rapidly over the next decade are home health and personal care aides, physical therapist assistants, medical and health services managers, and physician assistants. As the population ages, the proportion of individuals with chronic conditions is increasing the demand for team-based health care models.

Computer and mathematical occupations. Computer and mathematical occupations make up six of the 30 fastest growing occupations. Greater cybersecurity threats and the resulting need for robust online security will drive employment growth for information security analysts, an occupation expected to grow 31.2% from 2019 to 2029. The demand for statisticians is also expected to grow, with 34.6% more jobs during this decade.

Tracking Declines in Job Growth

While the focus of this analysis has been on growth sectors and jobs, there are a few areas expected to decline worth mentioning.

  • Technological changes facilitating automation and e-commerce are expected to result in fewer jobs in office and administrative support occupations as well as sales positions.
  • As e-commerce continues to grow in popularity, retail trade is projected to lose more than 368,000 jobs over the 2019–29 decade.

Monitoring Pandemic Implications

Prior to the pandemic, BLS projected that overall employment would grow a bit slower than prior projection periods, adding just 3.7% more jobs through 2029. While it is extremely challenging to predict how Covid-19 will impact job growth during this decade, there is consensus on a few industries and occupations you should be aware of as you plan for the coming years.

  • To mitigate spread of the virus, extensive, permanent changes to consumer and business behavior have already begun to occur. Evidence of this is apparent with the increase in remote work. With more employees teleworking, there is less of a need for office space, which will cause a decrease in nonresidential construction and other expenses related to employees working in offices.
  • The expansion in remote work will drive demand for information technology and supporting positions, particularly in the area of IT security. Decreased restaurant spending will result in increased grocery store consumption and employment. Many customer service jobs will likely be automated.
  • The decline of in-person activities and the related impact (i.e., reduced travel, sporting events, theater, and concert spending) will shift consumer dollars to virtual forms of socializing and entertainment and thus create a rise in virtual services. The inherent nature of the pandemic is already leading to more scientific and medical research funding, as well as telehealth.

Staffing jobs have yet to recover from pandemic losses, but the upward trajectory is promising. As health care expands and technological advances increase, there will continue to be temporary, contract, and permanent employment opportunities for job seekers in the coming years, even as the economy adapts to unique changes in the workforce.

ASA members always are welcome to contact the research team at 703-253-2020 or with questions about these statistics or other ASA research.

Cynthia Davidson is senior director of research for ASA. Send feedback on this article to Engage with ASA on social media—go to

<span class="publication-name"><em><em>Staffing Success Magazine</em></em></span> <span class="publication-separator">-</span> <span class="publication-issue">March–April 2021</span>
Originally Published In

Staffing Success Magazine - March–April 2021

ASA researchers analyze the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections to reveal trends in job growth through 2029.
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