The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 24, 2013

Jobs outlook good for area

JOHNSTOWN — Where will the jobs be in 2020? The long-range outlook is positive for the local area.

Industries and occupations related to professional and technical services and health care and social assistance are projected to have the greatest job growth between 2010 and 2020, according to projections recently released by the state Department of Labor and Industry’s Center for Workforce Information.

The information in this report provides an overview of the jobs and occupational structure of the region’s economy during the decade.

Highlights from the 2020 projections:

• Overall, the total number of jobs locally is projected to grow by 5.7 percent over the decade. In comparison, total jobs statewide are projected to grow by 6.4 percent. Nationally, an increase of 14.3 percent is envisioned through this forecast period.

• The area’s labor force, one of the driving forces of growth in the local economy, has consistently demonstrated a pattern of slow growth and will likely continue to move in that direction. This, in part, may serve as a supply constraint as the labor force continues to age in addition to a comparatively low participation rate. The baby boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, will move entirely into the 55 years and older age group by 2020.

• Projected employment levels through 2020 will not alter the industry composition of the area’s labor market area.

• The dominant service-producing industries are projected to account for slightly more than 80 percent of all jobs in the area by 2020. This includes the projected 3,000 new jobs that represent a growth rate of 6.2 percent.

Nearly three-quarters of the projected increase in the service sector will be concentrated in three key industries: Health care and social assistance, professional and technical assistance, and wholesale and retail trade.

The goods-producing industries, home to manufacturing, mining and construction and a small contingent of workers in agriculture and forestry, will add just over 300 workers through 2020.

Manufacturing is by far the dominant industry, and that trend will continue as its overall share of jobs is projected to increase just over 1 percent.

It has responded favorably in recent years to the expansion of existing facilities and the arrival of new industries, led by defense manufacturing and technology-based support companies.

However, there remains some uncertainty about the future centered around several local companies.

The construction industry was hard hit by the recession, and while a 12.7 percent increase is projected, employment growth will not be sufficient for construction to return to peak level.

Projection data isn’t showing a dramatic impact from Marcellus Shale drilling in the area. However, there is some growth in support activities for mining that may not be related to coal or nonmetallic mining and not just oil and gas.

Also, more activity is expected in the ancillary industries to include things like engineering services and transportation.

The fastest-growing occupations are related to health care practitioners and support occupations, reflecting expected increases in demand as the population ages and the health care industry continues to grow.

The sharp downturn experienced in the 2007-09 recession, accompanied by the slow recovery in this labor market, calls into question the path the area will take in terms of growth from 2010 to 2020.

Depending upon which industry is being considered, growth may mean either recovery growth or growth beyond recovery, or both. The recession affected industry groups differently, and not all industries are expected to recover completely while others are expected to recover and have continued growth. This may explain the magnitude of change within various industry sectors in this labor market.

 While the current projections may likely face more uncertainty than usual, this information should provide a reasonable view into where the growth and/or losses are likely to be through this decade.

The projections are used by students, teachers, career changers and career development and guidance specialists.

The projections are also widely used by policy-makers and education and training officials to make decisions about education and training policy, funding and program offerings. Add to this group business leaders and economic developers who use this information to understand trends in the economy and labor market.

For 40 years, Bill Findley was employed by the state Department of Labor and Industry Center for Workforce Information and Analysis as a workforce information specialist, monitoring and reporting on labor market developments in this area and across the region. He is a graduate of Pitt with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

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