Growing Labor Shortages on the Horizon

help_wantedOccupational data from the United States indicates that future labor shortages will cluster around three major categories of concern:

  • Health-related occupations. The same aging of the U.S. population that will curtail working-age population growth to as low as 0.15 percent by 2030 is also driving up demand for medical workers. At the same time, high education and experience requirements limit entry into the job market. The result is a dearth in many healthcare professions, including occupational therapy assistants, physical therapists and therapist assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives, and dental hygienists. Among doctors, optometrists and podiatrists are the specialists most at risk of shortage, with the general physicians and surgeons category not far behind.
  • Skilled labor occupations. These jobs typically require more than a high-school education, but not a bachelor’s degree. Unlike healthcare, the primary driver of shortages here is not increased demand—employment growth is expected to be low in the coming decade—but instead a rapidly shrinking supply of young people entering these fields as increasing numbers retire. Skilled labor occupations most at risk include water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators, crane and tower operators, transportation inspectors, and construction and building inspectors.
  • STEM occupations. U.S. policymakers have long been concerned about shortages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but many of these fields rank surprisingly average in a national context. Moderating the risk of shortages is the relatively high number of young entrants compared to baby-boomer retirees, as well as the large proportion of new immigrants in STEM jobs. Moreover, strong productivity growth means that output will continue to expand in areas like information technology, telecommunications, and high-tech manufacturing even as workforces in these jobs are expected to shrink. Nevertheless, certain STEM fields—including mathematical science, information security, and civil, environmental, biomedical, and agricultural engineering—do face significant shortages.

via Growing Labor Shortages on the Horizon in Mature Economies | The Conference Board.