Future Work

By: Dr. M. Ray Perryman
Published in syndication August 03, 2022

What will Texas jobs and the workforce look like in the future? The underlying driver is, of course, patterns in expansion by industry. We recently took a look at this question using our databases and models.

We started with our long-term projections for the Texas economy by detailed sector, then used our occupational system to translate these to results by occupation. This model uses extensive surveys conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is also extensively localized for every county in the state and adjusts for technology shifts (although there are always surprises on that front).

Every industry involves a mixture of jobs across a spectrum. A manufacturing facility, for example, might need managers, accountants, engineers, skilled workers of multiple types, truck drivers, janitorial staff, clerical workers, and numerous other categories. To get estimates of the total demand, our occupational system also considers the numbers of people leaving various professions due to retirement or other reasons.

The categories with the largest numbers of new jobs are concentrated in food service and retail. Even with recent labor-saving technology in this field, this pattern is common given the "person-to-person" nature of these segments. Among the top 30 occupations, eight are in this area (including fast food workers, cooks, retail salespersons, and cashiers, among others). Logistics is another high-growth sector, including materials movers, stockers, and laborers as well as truck drivers. There will also be substantial need for home health aides (with almost 140,000 needed in Texas by 2030), registered nurses, nursing assistants, and medical assistants. High demand is also projected for managers, software developers, janitors, customer service representatives, security guards, salespersons, landscape workers, accountants, and construction laborers.

Looking at the fastest growing in terms of percentage (as opposed to sheer numbers), rapid expansion is projected in renewable energy jobs such as wind turbine service technicians and solar installers. Several medical occupations are also on the list, including nurse practitioners, occupational and physical therapists, and massage therapists. Technology-oriented occupations such as information security analysts, data scientists, and statisticians will also be needed. Exercise trainers, animal caretakers, manicurists, and skincare specialists will see notable growth.

These jobs span a broad range of educational requirements and reflect the diversity of our vast business complex. There is an increasing trend toward jobs that require some type of professional or technical certification that can be obtained in a relatively short period of time (and often as an option available in a secondary school setting). Not surprisingly, the longstanding general correlation between educational attainment and lifetime earnings remains firmly intact.

As the population ages and baby boomers retire, there will be ongoing challenges in finding people to fill jobs. The future belongs to the prepared. Stay safe!