If you're thinking of selecting a career, switching jobs, or reentering the labor market, you may want to learn more about your prospects by visiting the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS's "Occupational Outlook Quarterly" can be found online at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/ooqhome.htm.
The bureau, part of the US Department of Labor, expects the economy will add 22 million jobs in this decade, bringing the work force to 168 million employed by 2010.
Knowing which job categories will grow or contract could give you a heads-up about what field to enter and how to prepare yourself for whatever you decide to do.
Despite the recent weakness in the technology sector, computer-related jobs hold the brightest prospects in the long term, the bureau says.
"We're projecting computer professionals overall will be the fastest-growing occupation of the decade," says Bureau economist Jon Sargent. "We expect to add 664,000 software engineers, a 95 percent gain over 2000, and 677,000 computer-support specialists and systems administrators, a 92 percent gain."
After computer and data processing, Mr. Sargent says the fastest-growing industries will be home healthcare, up 68 percent; residential-care facilities, up 64 percent; cable and pay TV, up 51 percent; personnel services, up 49 percent; and psychologists, therapists, and other health practitioners, up 47 percent.
The top 10 industries are rounded out by warehousing and storage, up 45 percent; water and sanitary services, up 45 percent; physicians' offices, up 44 percent; and veterinary services, up 44 percent. It's worth noting that five of the top 10 growth areas have to do with healthcare in one form or another.
The BLS Outlook also reports occupations where payrolls are contracting. For example, there were 71,000 broadcast announcers in 2000 but owing to a "consolidation of radio and TV stations," among other factors, there will be 4,000 fewer of them come 2010. There will also be fewer employees in the offices of the federal government, in households that now employ maids, and in textile and apparel factories, Sargent says.
Most of the 270 occupations covered by Occupational Outlook do not require college degrees.
If you have a high school diploma you can expect $28,000 a year. An associate's degree typically will bring you $35,000 a year and a bachelor's degree $46,000. Those with a master's degrees are earning $55,000 and a doctorate is good for $70,000. At the head of the class are those with a professional degree, earning more than $80,000 annually, BLS says.
"If you don't have a degree," Sargent says, "your best prospects are jobs where you can get long-term, on-the-job training, such as in construction trades, which will add 862,000 new jobs."