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Service--With a Smile

Child-care workers, waiters and other service jobs are predicted to grow fastest through 2005.


What do manicurists, amusement park attendants and computer engineers have in common?

They are among occupations Bureau of Labor Statistics' economists project to grow the fastest between 1994 and 2005. These fields, together with occupations expected to see the largest numerical gain in jobs, are dominated by professional positions and those in service industries.

As a share of total nonfarm employment, services sector jobs accounted for 21.4% in 1983, increasing to 27.2% in 1994. These jobs are projected to make up 32.9% of the work force in 2005.

"Because we have a boom economy with more disposable income, people are choosing to do less for themselves," said Ed Lawler, a professor of management and organization in USC's Marshall School of Business.

An increased reliance on others to do the cleaning, cooking and child care accounts for a jump in many occupations projected by the BLS to have the largest numerical increase in employment between 1994 and 2005.

This includes jobs for janitors, waiters and child-care workers. Some of the fastest-growing fields are also pegged to service consumption such as manicurists and amusement park attendants.

"There's a high demand for amusement services, and it doesn't seem to be a demand that's easily satisfied," said Tracy Clark, an economist with the Economic Outlook Center at Arizona State University. "They keep tearing down hotels with 1,000 rooms and replacing them with ones with 3,000 rooms."

People will also be doing more shopping, economists say, keeping demand high for retail salespeople and marketing and sales supervisors.

Two major trends reflected in BLS' compilations of future job growth are a leap in computer and health-related occupations. The proliferation of computers in the workplace boosted the need for systems analysts, computer engineers and electronic pagination systems workers who specialize in desktop publishing, said George Silvestri, a BLS labor economist.

Meanwhile, the aging of baby boomers and a move by hospitals to keep costs down by sending patients home earlier is driving growth in jobs for personal- and home-care aides, physical therapists, registered nurses and medical records technicians.

Some occupations are expected to gain more positions--such as secretaries, receptionists and truck drivers--simply because they're large to begin with and thus require a greater number of replacement workers, Silvestri said.

Demographic shifts are also affecting education, where a drop in class sizes and state legislation mandating programs for special-needs students are contributing to demand for secondary, elementary and special education teachers.

Employers will also continue the trend of contracting out some jobs, including prison guards required by increased construction of new penitentiaries, Silvestri said.

It's important to note that the BLS calculates jobs with the largest numerical gain in employment by subtracting employment for each category in 1994 from the category's projected employment in 2005.

For the fastest-growing occupations, economists calculate the percent change between the number of jobs in each field between 1994 and 2005.

Many of the jobs listed by the BLS, such as cashiers, will continue to grow because they aren't exportable like manufacturing jobs that have been moved to Mexico and other countries where companies can pay workers less, Lawler said.

"What's common among all the jobs listed in the high-growth areas is that they aren't easily exportable. They all have to be done at the point of customer interface in the U.S.," Lawler said.

BLS projections are also dominated by occupations at high and low ends of the training spectrum, reflecting the increasing gap between better-paying careers and those that generate little income, Silvestri said.

"The jobs most people want, you used to be able to get with a high school education. These positions now [require] either an associate's or a bachelor's degree," Clark said. "And to get the sort of advancement many people in the 1950s would go to college for, you now have to have a master's degree or a PhD."


Occupational Outlook

The occupations projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow the fastest and by the largest number of workers from 1994 to 2005 are dominated by positions in the computer, health and service-related fields. Top 20 occupations projected to grow the fastest and to see the largest numerical increase in employees into the next century:

Occupations projected to grow the fastest from 1994 to 2005

Occupation: Percentage growth

Personal/home-care aide: 119%

Home health aide: 102

Systems analyst: 92

Computer engineer: 90

Physical/corrective therapy aide: 83

Electronic pagination systems worker: 83

Occupational therapy aide: 82

Physical therapist: 80

Residential counselor: 76

Human services worker*: 75

Occupational therapist: 72

Manicurist: 69

Medical assistant: 59

Paralegal: 58

Medical records technician: 56

Special-education teacher: 53

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