Monday, April 9, 2012

Employment Projections for Government and Public Administration 2010-2020

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Government and Public Administration is the smallest career cluster. Only 18 of the occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are included in this cluster; thus, the total employment is only about 1.8 million workers. Cluster employment is projected to decline through 2020 with the loss of about 22,000 jobs.

Unfortunately, the national system for matching occupations to career clusters is particularly unsatisfactory for Government and Public Administration for two reasons. First, the only occupations matched to this cluster are those that appear exclusively in government service (occupations such as Legislators, Postmasters, and Tax Examiners), but the vast majority of those employed in public service work in occupations that are not exclusive to this industry. Second, the list of government service occupations that the BLS tracks is small, and many government specialties are not included.

These difficulties mean that the information we have on Government and Public Administration underestimates the extent of employment in the cluster. The occupations crosswalked to this cluster employed about 1.8 million workers in 2010. BLS industry data tells us that the entire Government sector employed about 22.5 million workers in 2010. But it is impossible to tell how many of those 22.5 million work in occupations that the designers of the career cluster system intended to include in Government and Public Administration.

Because of all of these difficulties, this write up on the Government and Public Administration cluster is less useful than I would like it to be. I recommend that Career and Technical Education administrators who are considering the introduction of programs related to government service look at a wider range of data than I include here.

Cluster Overview: Expectations for Change, 2010-2020
Despite the data difficulties that I mentioned above, it is clear that employment in Government and Public Administration is unlikely to grow by much and may decline through 2020. After rising continuously for decades, government employment has been steady at just about 22.5 million for the past five years. Public pressure to reduce government expenditure is likely to remain strong, which means that employment numbers will likely remain at the current level or may even decline.

The Postal Service is the branch of government for which the greatest change is predicted. Employment in postal service occupations is expected to fall dramatically, the worst hit being Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators where employment is expected to decrease by almost 70 percent. This is yet another field being revolutionized by technology, by the shift to digital communications, and by the ever increasing capacity to automate routine work. 

Projections Data: What the BLS tells us about employment
Every two years the BLS releases new national employment projections for over 700 different occupations. The projections include five important pieces of information discussed in this post.
Estimated 2010 employment: The estimated number of jobs or positions in each occupation. (This is a count of positions, not workers; many people have two jobs).
Projected 2020 employment: The estimated number of jobs or positions in each occupation. (A count of positions, not workers; many people have two jobs).
Numeric Change 2010-2020 or "New Jobs:" Most occupations are expected grow by 2020 as employers  create new positions or "new jobs."
Percent Change 2010-2020: The percent increase or decrease in employment over the decade. This information helps us compare the rate of change across jobs of different sizes.
Job Openings 2010-2020: Job opportunities arise in two ways: when employers create new jobs and when workers retire or leave an occupation and need to be replaced by new hires. The BLS projects how many people will be retiring from each occupation over the decade and combines this with the number of new jobs to predict how many "job openings" will become available. Even shrinking occupations have job openings because employers  need to replace some of the people who retire with new workers.
Pathways Overview
The national system of career clusters divides Government and Public Administration into seven pathways. BLS employment projections are available for occupations in six of these: Governance; National Security; Planning; Regulation; Revenue and Taxation; and Public Management and Administration. No data are available for occupations in the Foreign Service pathway.

  • Public Management and Administration was the largest pathway in 2010 and will remain the largest in 2020, despite the expected loss of over 130,000 jobs in Postal Service Occupations.
  • Despite these job losses, Public Management and Administration will also have the greatest number of job openings through 2020. These will come from the continuing need to replace some, but not all, of the workers who retire.
  • Planning is projected to be the fastest growing pathway. It is expected to increase by about 16 percent, which is considered about average compared to other categories and the national average of 14%.
  • Regulation is expected to add the greatest number of jobs through 2020, although it is only the second fastest growing pathway. The pathway is expected to add about 48,000 jobs.
  • The Governance pathway includes only one occupation, Legislators. This is a small pathway and expected to remain small.
  • The National Security pathway also includes only one occupation tracked by the BLS, Transportation Security Screeners. This occupation was newly added to the BLS occupation list in 2010. I included it in this pathway, but the updated crosswalk assigning occupations to clusters and pathways that is expected in the next year or so, may well add this occupation to another pathway. The other occupations assigned here are military and the BLS does not collect any data on them.
Pathways Employment Overview (in 1000s)
Pathways and Number of Occupations Included Employment
Governance (1) 67.767.90.20%15.9
National Security(1)
Planning (4)285.8331.245.416%106.3
Regulation (5)433.2481.548.311%126.2
Revenue and Taxation (2)152.3163.511.37%45.2
Public Management and Administration (6)  804672.7-131.3-16%215.3

Job Openings and New Jobs
Job opportunities arise when employers create new positions and when workers retire or leave an occupation and need to be replaced by new hires. The BLS projects the number of new jobs that will be created in each occupation and the number of "job openings" for each occupation that will arise from the combination of new jobs and replacements.

The BLS projects that Government and Public Administration will shrink rather than add new jobs through 2020. Nonetheless, some occupations within the cluster are expected to keep adding new jobs. Only three, however, are expected to add more than 10,000 new jobs:
  • Court, Municipal, and License Clerks (10,400);
  • Compliance Officers (32,400);
  • Interviewers, Expect Eligibility and Loan (36,900).
Even though the cluster is shrinking, the BLS projects over 500 thousand job openings across the decade because agencies will continue to need to replace at least some of the workers who retire. The occupations that are expected to have the most job openings nationwide are:
  • Post Service Mail Carriers;
  • Interviewers, Except Eligibility and Loan;
  • Compliance Officers;
  • Court, Municipal, and License Clerks; and
  • Eligibility Interviewers, Government Programs.
The following graph shows the occupations expected to have the most job openings between 2010 and 2020.

Declining Occupations
Although only four occupations are expected to decline through 2020, those occupations will lose a significant number of jobs.  All of the declining occupations will be in the Public Management and Administration pathway and will all be related to postal service.
  • Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators (-48.5%)
  • Postal Service Clerks (-48.2%)
  • Postmasters and Mail Superintendents (-27.8%)
  • Postal Service Mail Carriers (-12%)
Complete Listing
The table below gives the complete picture of how occupations in the Government and Public Administration cluster are projected to change between 2010 and 2020.

Employment Projections (in 1000s)
 Pathways and Occupations Included
Employment 2010Employment 2020Numeric ChangePercent ChangeJob Openings
Governance Pathway67.767.90.20%15.9
National Security Pathway48.152.74.610%10.4
Transportation Security Screeners48.152.74.610%10.4
Planning Pathway285.8331.245.416%106.3
Statistical Assistants16.617.61.06%4.1
Urban and Regional Planners40.346.86.516%16.8
Interviewers, Except Eligibility and Loan213.5250.436.917%79.6
Regulation Pathway433.2481.548.311%126.2
Meter Readers, Utilities40.541.00.51%12.7
Detectives and Criminal Investigators119.4122.93.53%30.1
Transportation Inspectors27.431.44.014%10.7
Compliance Officers216.6249.032.415%58.6
Financial Examiners29.337.27.927%14.1
Revenue and Taxation Pathway152.3163.511.37%45.2
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents74.580.05.57%23.0
Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate77.883.55.87%22.2
Public Management and Administration Pathway804.0672.7-131.3-16%215.3
Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators142.073.0-68.9-49%7.5
Postal Service Clerks65.634.0-31.6-48%15.5
Postmasters and Mail Superintendents24.517.7-6.8-28%4.8
Postal Service Mail Carriers316.7278.5-38.1-12%103.4
Eligibility Interviewers, Government Programs125.7129.63.93%37.4
Court, Municipal, and License Clerks129.5139.910.48%46.7