Introducing NC’s 2028 Occupational Projections

Monday, October 12, 2020
Author: 
Jeff Rosenthal

The Labor & Economic Analysis Division (LEAD) of the North Carolina Department of Commerce has recently produced long term employment projections for the 2018-2028 period.  We plan to have several short blogs to provide highlights of the findings.  

This second summary will look at the occupational employment projections and earnings. 

What’s going on with occupational projections?

Much like the industry projections, most occupational groups are projected to experience growth in employment. This is not surprising as industry employment projections are a primary data source used to project changes in occupational employment.  As jobs in service-providing industries are projected to grow, jobs in occupations in most of these industries are also projected to increase, while occupations in goods-producing industries outside Construction may see projected decline.

Table 1 shows occupational employment estimates for 2018-2028. The five largest occupational groups together are expected to account for almost half of the total employment in 2028: Office & Administrative Support Occupations; Sales & Related Occupations; Food Preparation & Serving Related Occupations; Transportation & Material Moving Occupations; and Production Occupations.  These represent the largest occupational groups in North Carolina, and most are expected to see increase in employment.

Table 1. North Carolina Employment Projections by Major Occupational Group, 2018-2028

Occupational Group Employment Estimate 2018 Employment Estimate 2028 Net Change Percent Change Annualized Growth Rate 2018 Annual Median Wage
Management 262,538 286,674 24,136 9.2% 0.9% $106,060
Computer & Mathematical 142,376 164,297 21,921 15.4% 1.4% $84,680
Architecture & Engineering 67,693 72,666 4,973 7.4% 0.7% $72,930
Business & Financial Operations 241,702 267,809 26,107 10.8% 1.0% $65,820
Life, Physical, & Social Science 37,919 41,538 3,619 9.5% 0.9% $61,660
Legal 28,781 31,481 2,700 9.4% 0.9% $60,970
Healthcare Practitioners & Technical 288,829 322,864 34,035 11.8% 1.1% $60,790
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, & Media 61,342 64,473 3,131 5.1% 0.5% $45,280
Community & Social Service 81,592 90,493 8,901 10.9% 1.0% $44,300
Education, Training & Library 271,124 285,891 14,767 5.5% 0.5% $43,650
Installation, Maintenance, & Repair 202,632 212,767 10,135 5.0% 0.5% $43,620
Construction & Extraction 201,178 225,522 24,344 12.1% 1.1% $37,850
Protective Service 101,178 105,740 4,562 4.5% 0.4% $36,840
Total, All Occupations 4,791,820 5,094,159 302,339 6.3% 0.6% $35,750
Office & Administrative Support 650,774 650,044 -730 -0.1% 0.0% $34,300
Production 354,836 341,483 -13,353 -3.8% -0.4% $31,700
Transportation & Material Moving 340,088 357,338 17,250 5.1% 0.5% $29,690
Farming, Fishing, & Forestry 35,183 34,066 -1,117 -3.2% -0.3% $28,370
Healthcare Support 152,578 175,738 23,160 15.2% 1.4% $26,670
Sales & Related 514,255 522,635 8,380 1.6% 0.2% $25,790
Building & Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance 166,852 179,096 12,244 7.3% 0.7% $24,190
Personal Care & Service 159,001 180,811 21,810 13.7% 1.3% $22,050
Food Preparation & Serving Related 429,369 480,733 51,364 12.0% 1.1% $19,840
Source: NC Department of Commerce 2018-2028 Long Term Employment Projections and Occupational Employment Statistics

Besides the largest growing Food Preparation & Serving Related Occupations (+51,000), other occupational groups expected to increase the most include Healthcare Practitioners & Technical (+34,000), Business & Financial Operations (+26,100), Construction & Extraction (+24,300), and Management Occupations (+24,100).

While Computer & Mathematical Occupations (software developers, systems analysts, etc.) are projected to grow the fastest, Healthcare Support Occupations (healthcare assistants and aides, etc.), Personal Care & Service Occupations (attendants, care workers, hairdressers, etc.), Construction & Extraction Occupations (construction laborers, carpenters, etc.), Food Preparation & Serving Related (waiters and waitresses, cooks, etc.) and Healthcare Practitioners & Technical Occupations (doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) are all among the top fastest expanding groups (Figure 1).  Again, these are reflective of projected growth in industries such as Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services, Health Care & Social Assistance, and Accommodation & Food Services. 

There are two distinct findings regarding pay and projected growth.  The first one is that occupational groups with earnings above the state median occupational wage ($35,750) are generally projected to grow faster than average, while occupational groups with pay lower than the state median occupational wage will likely grow slower than average.  (Table 1).  

However, upon closer inspection, occupations at both the lowest and highest ends of the wage scale will experience the fastest growth (Table 1).  Occupational groups with median annual wages below the 25th percentile ($23,830) are expected to grow 12% between 2018 and 2028. Groups with median annual wages above the 75th percentile ($56,100) are expected to increase by 11%.  Occupational groups with median annual wages between the 25th and 75th percentiles are projected to grow only 4% (Table 1).

While there’s a stark difference in wages, many of the occupations in these high-growth groups have one thing in common – the dominance of non-routine tasks* (which are difficult to automate) in the daily work.  The occupational groups with a high degree of regular, routine work are projected to decline partly due to automation.

Additional resources for the 2018-2028 Employment Projections can be found from the links below:

•    Projection Summary: North Carolina Employment Projections 2018-2028
•    Impact of COVID-19 pandemic and response efforts on the NC Employment Projections 
•    Projections Data by Industry and Occupation 

*https://www.nccommerce.com/blog/2016/12/13/where-jobs-are-supply-and-demand-labor-north-carolina%E2%80%99s-regions