Earlier this month the Conference Board released a report analyzed the American job market through 2022 to see which occupations will have the most jobs.
The findings might surprise those pushing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions—especially organizations that say government needs to act to get more women into STEM degree programs.
Bloomberg Business Week’s Peter Coy reports that:
The most surprising finding of the study is that STEM occupations—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—don’t top the list of jobs that will face labor shortages, despite the drumbeat of warnings that the U.S. isn’t producing enough STEM grads. “Many of these fields rank surprisingly average in a national context” in terms of labor-shortage risk, said the report summary.
There’s more concern about shortages in health-related occupations because the aging of the population will simultaneously increase the need for medical workers and decrease their supply as people retire. …
Skilled blue-collar jobs may be hard to fill as well—not because of increased demand but because of “a rapidly shrinking supply of young people entering these fields as increasing numbers retire.”
It’s not just the United States that’s facing projected labor shortages according to the Conference Board, which reviewed 32 national economies and 266 industries worldwide.
Depending on the strength of countries’ economies, between now and 2017 most countries analyzed will have fallen below their natural unemployment rates, meaning there will be labor shortages. Even countries with some of the worst-performing economies now, including Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and to a lesser degree France, will be in a similar labor-shortage situation by 2025. Coy continues:
… unemployment has already fallen below what the Conference Board believes is its “natural” rate in Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The natural rate is the lowest level that joblessness can reach before labor markets get too tight and spark inflationary wage increases. There’s no agreement among economists as to what the natural rate is, although policymakers at the Federal Reserve estimate it as ranging from 5 percent to 6 percent in the U.S. The unemployment rate in the U.S. in July was 6.2 percent.
The Conference Board forecasts that unemployment will fall below its natural rate in the United States and the United Kingdom over the next year, with the rest of Europe following later.
Study authors note that these findings suggest workforces will need to be retrained in the next decade. The findings should encourage education policies that improve access, affordability, and flexibility so future employees can get the knowledge and skills they need to compete. A lower and more equitable tax code—namely one that does not push businesses and jobs beyond our borders—would also help businesses compete to attract top employees, which is good for workers, taxpayers, and the economy.