Where the Jobs Are
By: Dr. M. Ray Perryman
Published in syndication November 22, 2023
The dynamic Texas economy has been leading the way in job creation and opportunities. At the same time, future performance hinges on the ability to meet demand for workers in the midst of substantial demographic challenges. In fact, despite record numbers of people working in the state, there are presently around 800,000 unfilled jobs in Texas. We recently looked at the need for employees by occupation over the next 10 years based on our projections of economic growth by industry.
The total demand for workers stems from both the additional jobs associated with economic growth and the need to replace individuals who retire or leave occupations or areas for various reasons. Detailed, industry-level projections from our US Multi-Regional Econometric Model were used as inputs to our Industry-Occupation System, which translates growth by industry into growth by occupation. The total demand for workers is substantially larger than employment growth, because significant numbers of employees must be replaced over time.
Over the next 10 years, the major occupational groups with the highest total demand are projected to be Food Preparation and Serving Related, Transportation and Material Moving, and Sales and Related. Looking at detailed occupations, the largest demand is forecast to occur in Home Health and Personal Care Aides, Fast Food and Counter Workers, and Retail Salespersons. Some of the highest demand occupations can be increasingly automated over time (such as certain aspects of order filling or food preparation), but others involve person-to-person interactions. Innovations such as artificial intelligence also come into play.
With the aging of the large baby boom generation and falling birth rates, finding the needed workers will be challenging. There are more than one million fewer people under the age of 18 in the United States than there were 10 years ago, but Texas is better positioned with a notably younger population and growth in the number of young people.
Another key to meeting the needs of a growing economy involves ensuring these individuals have the literacy and education, training, or skills needed to succeed. We estimate that about 38% of new worker demand will occur in occupations requiring a significant level of literacy. (More about the importance of literacy another day.)
Access to higher education and training is also essential, and in many cases, affordability is an issue. In Texas, the fastest-growing population group (Hispanics) comprises a growing majority of the school-aged population, but Hispanic households hold a relatively small percentage of total wealth.
Improving the capacity to meet future workforce needs can enhance job opportunities and, in many cases, income levels. At the same time, such improvement helps ensure that Texas will continue to grow and prosper. It is literally a matter of sustainability. Stay safe!