Friday, November 4, 2016

Show Me the Economy - Occupational Projections for Utah

The biennial update to Utah's occupational projections has been released and can be found here:  But first, check out these highlights:


Utah Statewide Highlights

Occupational openings are projected to grow by 2.7 percent annually.  That amounts to nearly 70,000 openings each year across Utah from 2014 to 2024. 
The occupations with the highest growth expectations are, on average, those that require the most education. Jobs that typically require a doctoral or professional degree are projected to grow 3.3 percent annually, and jobs that typically require a master's degree are projected to grow 3.1 percent annually. Growth in openings for postsecondary health specialties teachers and growth in health care occupations in general are the primary drivers of this trend.  

Demand for nurse practitioners, for instance, is expected to be at a level of 110 openings per year, a growth rate of nearly 4 percent.  These jobs require a master's degree and offer median wages of nearly $95K per year. Dental hygienists are another medical occupation in high demand - about 120 openings projected each year through 2024. Dental hygienists typically require an associate's degree but pay median wages of more than $70K per year. 

Expectations for computer and mathematical occupations are noteworthy as well. These occupations are expected to grow by 4.4 percent every year on average. Jobs in these fields typically require a bachelor's degree or higher and offer relatively high wages. Applications software developers, for example, have a strong demand outlook with 640 projected openings annually. These jobs typically require a bachelor's degree and earn median wages of over $90K per year. Web developers, similarly, are expected to have plenty of job opportunities with about 140 openings annually. These jobs often require only an associate's degree and still make an excellent median wage of nearly $56K per year.

There are many other occupations in the state that are projected to offer excellent opportunities as well — industrial machinery mechanics, electricians, machinists, plumbers, and pretty much every kind of engineer to name just a few.

To learn more about the particular opportunities in your region, click on the regional blog tabs above.

You can learn more about these occupations and others through the Utah Occupational Explorer where you can explore and compare occupations of interest in detail by region, wage level, typical education required, projected growth and demand. Before digging into the details though, take a look at the interactive data visualization above to see the big picture of the occupational outlook for Utah.

About Utah's Occupational Projections
Mark Knold, Supervising Economist

“The government knows everything about everyone.”

Fortunately, that statement is not true. Yet society still looks to the government to provide answers to comprehensive and complex questions that have their foundation within individual decisions and activities. One subject frequently directed toward the government is individual-level information about the economy — particularly, what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon?

It takes the accumulation of a wide array of individual information to answer these questions. Employers provide the foundation information about the occupations they employ. Jobs are held by individuals, but employers provide the profile information about the job itself, not any particular individual.

Since society desires to profile such a broad spectrum of the economy — occupational profiles and the occupational distribution within the economy — only government is in the unique position to collect, analyze and provide answers for said desire. Yet, no government program or regulatory agency mandates any comprehensive occupational reporting from individuals or businesses. Therefore, government attempts to fill the void with an ongoing, robust and voluntary survey of employers — a survey where employers are asked to provide details about their various occupations, including descriptions, quantities, wages/salaries and location. Through this survey emerges an occupational portrait of an economy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) structures and funds the survey, yet the individual states conduct the survey. Under BLS administration, all states use the same methodology; therefore, occupational profiles are comparable across states.

Through this survey, analysts discover how industries are populated with various occupations. Accountant is an occupation, yet accountants can be found across many different industries. Other occupations may be more exclusive to certain industries; for example, doctors are largely found only in the healthcare industry. One of the survey’s products is that industries can be profiled with their general mix of occupations. This is called an industry’s occupational staffing pattern.

This brings us back to the original questions: what occupations are in demand, what occupations pay well and have lucrative outlooks, and ultimately, what occupation(s) should I build my career upon?

The foundation is to make informed forecasts about how industries will expand/contract over the next 10 years. By applying existing occupational staffing patterns to each industry’s projected change, a trained economic analyst can then make an extrapolation about how occupations will correspondingly increase/decrease. Knowledgeable analyst judgment further refines the occupational expectations, such as knowing an occupation will grow faster than in the past, with the result being a set of occupational projections that accumulate to profile a state or regional economy.

A new set of occupational projections are done every two years to keep the information fresh even though economies do not change dramatically in short order. Because of slow change, updated occupational projects generally continue the overall message of preceding occupational projections. But economies do modify with time, and therefore, subtle changes will arise with each new set of occupational projections.

Utah’s most recent occupational projections are found here: These projections look forward to the year 2024.

The occupational profile is structured from the general to the detailed, mimicking the structure of a family tree. First, broad occupational categories are defined, such as management or healthcare occupations; then, subcategories are defined; and finally, individual occupations are defined. Individual occupations are the heart of the occupational projections. But overall patterns and characteristics do emerge when observing the broader categories.

While a Utah statewide profile leads the way, Utah’s local economies are not homogenous; therefore, nine Utah subregions are also profiled. Due to confidentiality restraints and statistical reliability, the amount of occupations available will diminish the smaller a subregion; but, occupations comprising the backbone of a regional economy will be available.

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