Occupations Expected to Grow the Most Over the Next Decade


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped the U.S. labor market in many ways. Many low-wage jobs in fields like retail and hospitality were lost early in the pandemic and have not come back, while throughout the pandemic, there has been strong demand for health workers in response to the pandemic and technology specialists who can support an increasingly virtual economy. The unemployment rate remains elevated, but many industries are facing labor shortages and millions of workers have been leaving their jobs voluntarily in a phenomenon that has come to be known as “The Great Resignation.”

In some cases, the pandemic has been an accelerant of labor trends that were already underway, like increasing automation and digitalization of jobs. In others, post-pandemic shifts in the labor force will have less to do with the effects of the pandemic than with underlying demographic and economic trends. This complicated set of factors is evident in recent projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which estimated that total U.S. employment will grow 7.7% between now and 2030—but only by 1.7% when excluding the economy’s recovery from pandemic-related job loss.

One of the demographic trends driving shifts in the workforce is the aging of the population. The Baby Boomers, those Americans born between 1946 and 1964, number more than 75 million and were the largest generation in U.S. history until the Millennials came along. The Boomers have until recently tended to represent the largest sections of the labor force and are working later into life than previous generations. As a result, those aged 55+ are expected to represent around a quarter of the workforce for at least the next decade.

But the aging of the Baby Boomer generation will have more widespread effects on jobs and the economy as well. Eventually, as this generation ages out of the workforce into retirement, more companies will have vacancies and potentially find themselves struggling to fill positions that the Boomers once occupied. This scenario will put pressure on many employers but could also position younger workers for greater job opportunities. A larger population of elderly Americans will also bring greater strains on healthcare, so more of the economy will need to be oriented around supporting older Americans in their later years of life.

The latter trend is one of the primary reasons why health and human service occupations are projected to be among the fastest-growing fields in the years ahead. Healthcare support jobs are the top field for growth, with a total projected growth rate of 23.1% between 2020 and 2030. The related fields of community and social service and healthcare practitioners are also near the top of the list, with growth rates of 12.4% and 10.8%, respectively.

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