What 1980s hold for US jobs, social security

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Are you tired of hearing about a coming boom in high-technology jobs? Worried that every US community will become a computer assembly center, with a nickname like Silicon Oaks, or Semiconductor Square?

Take heart. Over the next 10 years, most US job growth will come in occupations that have little to do with producing computer products and don't require three graduate degrees.

By 1990, US companies will hire hundreds of thousands of new secretaries, accountants, and cashiers. The demand for paralegals, travel agents, and bricklayers is expected to explode.

Recommended: Default

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 24 million new jobs will be created in the United States over the next decade. Such growth would employ the equivalent of almost the entire current population of Canada.

Thirty-seven occupations will account for half the new jobs. Only four of these are directly related to high technology - and they're all near the bottom of the list.

The occupation with the largest projected gain is not robot tender or bioengineer, but secretary. BLS predicts 700,000 new secretarial jobs will be created during the 1980s. Nurse's aides, janitors, sales clerks, and cashiers round out the top five occupations.

These occupations are huge to begin with, so even moderate rates of growth produce large numbers of new openings, says Michael Pilot, BLS Occupation Outlook coordinator.

Most high-tech jobs, on the other hand, are like young children: fast-growing , but still small in size. The number of computer operators is expected to increase 70 percent by 1990, but that growth will produce only 22,000 new jobs.

It's the more mundane occupations such as file clerk that will provide sheer numbers of jobs in the future. But it's the rate of growth that perhaps provides a better glimpse into where the US economy is going - and fast rates of growth won't be limited to glamorous fields of high technology. Many of the most rapidly expanding occupations of the '80s will be in service industries, which already provide two-thirds of the jobs in America.

In fact, the fastest growing occupation in the US won't be ''satellite engineer,'' or ''neurometric technician,'' but the more mundane ''paralegal.''

Paralegals are lawyer's helpers who aid in the whole spectrum of case preparation. Currently there are only 32,000 paralegals in the US, but that number is projected to double over the next 10 years, as lawyers discover a well-trained support staff can increase their productivity. ''The key is increased efficiency,'' says attorney Melvin Merzon, an American Bar Association expert on legal assistance. The demand for other paraprofessionals, such as dental assistants, will increase for similar reasons.

A wide variety of service-producing jobs will show much faster than average growth through the 1980s. The federal deficit may be brought under control, but the number of economists in the US is still expected to increase 42 percent by 1990. Tax preparers are supposed to increase their numbers by 48 percent over the next 10 years.

And if you ignore your tax preparer's advice and cheat anyway, remember this: The number of US jailers is projected to go up by almost 50 percent.

Most post-World War II baby boomers will enter middle age during the decade, and occupations that cater to the needs of the over-35 set will show strong growth. Real estate agents and child care attendents will increase by a healthy amount; travel agents will multiply even faster.

And for those who still have money left over after buying a house and traveling to Bermuda, there's always the market: Commodities brokers are supposed to increase by 42 percent, as their volume continues to expand. ''Commodities used to mean pork bellies. Now we trade precious metals, financial instruments, stock-index futures, lots of things,'' says Mary Kirchner, vice-president of the Futures Industry Association.

There will be fast growth in auto painters, as people keep their cars longer. All kinds of machine repairmen will be in big demand. The number of store detectives will skyrocket, to fight shoplifiting. Bricklayers are projected to increase 40 percent.

Of course, all these predictions are based on such volatile demographic and economic factors. If anything, these predictions may be low: Over the last 20 years, the BLS has consistently underestimated the size of the labor force. In 1965, BLS predicted the 1980 work force would be 100 million; the actual figure was 107 million. Where the jobs will be -- 1980-90

Fastest growing occupations requiring a bachelor's degree Occupation Percent increase Employment in employment 1980 (Thousands) Computor Systems Analysts 68-80 205 Physical Therapists 51-59 34 Computer Programmers 49-60 228 Speech and Hearing Clinicians 47-50 35 Aero-Astronomic Engineers 43-52 68 Economists 42-50 29 Dietitians 38-46 44 Electrical Engineers 35-47 327 Medical Laboratory Technologists 34-42 105 Architects 33-41 80

Fastest growing occupations that generally require postsecondary education and training (but less than a bachelor's degree) Occupation Percent increase Employment 1980-90 1980 (Thousands) Paralegal personnel 109-139 32 Data processing machine mechanics 92-112 83 Computer operators 72-82 185 Office machine and cash register services 60-73 55 Tax Preparers 49-70 31 Employment interviewers 47-64 58

Fastest growing occupations requiring a high school diploma or less. Occupation Percent increase Employment 1980-90 1980 (Thousands) Food preparation and service workers, fast food restaurants 50-57 806,000 Correction officers and jailers 47-49 103,000 Nurses' aides and orderlies 43-53 1,175.000 Psychiatric aides 40-46 82,000 Dental assistants 39-42 139,000 Painters, automotive 38-44 41,000

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...