We came across an interesting analysis of what the next 10 years of temporary employment may look like. It’s based on the biennial 10-year projections of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The government’s outlook is that overall non-farm employment will grow by a somewhat anemic 5.6% through 2028. Temporary help services — temporary workers provided by staffing firms like us — will grow by 2.3%. These are projections, which, though based on all sorts of data and history, amount to best guesses.
When you drill down, as analyst Bruce Steinberg does, the projections become more useful and more reliable. For example, the BLS projects that temporary office and administrative jobs, which make up a significant percentage of all temporary help, will decline by 2028. It’s the only category other than the farming, fishing and forestry category to lose positions.
Why the decline? In a word, automation. In discussing the outlook for all office and administrative support occupations, the BLS says, “Technology is expected to substitute or supplant some functions that workers in office and administrative support occupations do.”
Truck drivers, and the laborers who move and handle goods by hand, taxi drivers and some others that make up the transportation and material moving occupations, are the single largest percentage of temp workers placed by agencies. It’s a category the government expects will still be the largest percentage of temp workers in 2028. That’s mostly due to the projected increase in laborers. Their numbers are expected to increase by 27,600 or 3.7%.
What’s curious about the government’s outlook is that it expects the country’s need for truck and other motor vehicle operators to also grow. We say curious because almost not a week goes by without news of more autonomous trucks being tested. Could be that the predictions of fleets of driverless trucks by 2028 might be a bit too optimistic.
At the top of the fastest growing temp jobs is an unexpected group – lawyers. Over the 10 years covered by the BLS and Steinberg’s report, temporary lawyer jobs will grow 15.7%. But that only amounts to an additional 1,200 more jobs, since the total temp lawyer workforce of employment agencies will total 8,600.
Besides covering the various temporary employment occupations, Steinberg also includes charts showing the jobs with the most growth (home health aides +36.6%, personal care aides +36.4% and software developers +25.6% are the top three) and those that will lose jobs (word processors and typists -33.8%; data entry -23.2% and postal workers and switchboard operators both down 23.8%).
It isn’t too hard to figure out what’s behind both the increases and decreases — automation and artificial intelligence. The jobs that can be automated will be. Those requiring a human touch and advanced cognitive skills, nurses, accountants, market analysts, health care workers, and cooks and chefs among them, will grow.