Service Areas To Exceed High-Tech in Job Growth

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Of the 10 occupations in which the demand for workers will grow the fastest in the next decade, only two--teaching and nursing--will require postsecondary training, according to two Stanford University economists.

None of the fast-growing fields will involve high technology, say Russell W. Rumberger and Henry M. Levin of the university's Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance, although eight of the 10 will involve the production, use, or repair of computers. Overall, according to their new analysis of labor statistics, less than 6 percent of all new jobs in the next decade will be in high-technology occupations.

Moreover, as of 1982, the 10 growing occupations accounted for only 1.3 million new jobs out of a total of more than 101 million jobs.

Between 1982 and 1995, according to the researchers' analysis, the number of teaching jobs is expected to grow by 511,000 or 37 percent. The fastest-growing occupation, they say, will be that of building custodian, with 779,000 new jobs created by 1995. There will also be growing demand for cashiers, secretaries, office clerks, waiters, and truck drivers.

While federal labor statistics have been "fairly accurate" in the past, the two researchers contend, "in general, it appears that past projections have overstated the growth of technical occupations and understated the decline of certain traditional jobs."

In their new study, the researchers repeat their warning that advanced technologies will not only diminish the demand for workers, but will lower the level of skill the remaining workers will require.

"Past technologies created new machines that greatly reduced the physical demands of work in agriculture, manufacturing, and construction," the Stanford researchers say. "Future technologies, based on sweeping developments in microelectronics, could greatly reduce the mental demands of work in virtually all sectors of the economy. The impact of these technologies is likely to be more widespread, because their cost has declined so sharply relative to their capability and relative to the cost of labor."

High-technology industries now occupy only 15 percent of the American workforce, Mr. Rumberger and Mr. Levin note, adding that only one-fourth of those workers need substantial knowledge of technology to perform their jobs because machines will be capable of performing more functions.

Single copies of their report, "Forecasting the Impact of New Technologies on the Future Job Market," are available free of charge. Write the Institute for Finance and Governance, ceras Building, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. 94305, or call (415) 497-2754.

Vol. 03, Issue 34

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