Projections

Employment projections provide job seekers, policy makers and training providers an idea of how many jobs exist within industries and occupations, how the number of jobs are expected to change over time and what the future demand for workers will be.

Our projections show expected change in employment by industry and occupation, the current and projected employment counts, estimated growth rates and average annual openings.

We develop short-, medium- and long-term projections.

  • Short-term projections are two-year projections.
  • Medium-term projections are five-year projections.
  • Long-term projections are 10-year projections.

We revise the projections annually.

How are employment projections developed?

We develop industry projections and convert them to occupations based on staffing patterns gleaned from occupational employment statistic surveys. The occupations-industry matrix displays occupational compositions for each industry for Washington state and Workforce Development Areas.  The matrix is created for occupational projections and is based upon an occupational employment statistics (OES) survey. Industry classification is based on industry control totals (ICT) definitions.

Separations and alternative methods:

Average annual job openings

In our occupational employment projections, we present two sets of estimates for average annual job openings. One set is calculated using the job opening rates the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides and the other one using Washington state specific job opening rates that ESD creates. The former are referred as BLS occupational separations rates and the latter as Washington state alternative occupational rates.

BLS occupational separations method

The separations method measures job openings created by workers who leave occupations and need to be replaced by new entrants. In this method, workers who exit the labor force or transfer to an occupation with a different Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) are identified as generating separations openings at the national level. This means that jobs filled by interstate movement, when workers stay within occupations, are not identified as new jobs.

More detailed information about the separation approach can be found at:

Click here for separations information.

This BLS method does not track turnover within occupations. Turnovers within occupations occur when workers stay in occupations, but change employers.

Washington state alternative occupational method

Beginning with the 2017 projections cycle, ESD created a new Washington state specific alternative occupational method to the BLS separations method. The objective was to also track job openings due to workers transferring within occupations. For simplicity we refer to this method as the alternative method and to the rates as the alternative rates.

The alternative method is based on Washington state wage records, making the resulting alternative rates specific to Washington state.

The alternative rates track openings created by turnover within occupations (i.e. workers stay within occupations but transfer to different companies) and when workers leave one occupation for another or leave the workforce.

The method consists of three major steps:

  1. Estimating the total number of annual industry transfers that include:
    1. Transfers between industries
    2. Transfers inside industries
    3. New individuals in Washington state wage records (wage file)
    4. Exits or individuals who are no longer in the wage file
  2. Converting industry transfers to occupational transfers using occupation-to-industry staffing patterns (shares of occupations for each industry).
  3. Calculating alternative rates as total transfers, minus growth or decline, divided by estimated occupational employment for a base period.

Occupational classification difference for 2018 only

Occupational projections are based on staffing patterns gleaned from occupational employment statistic (OES) surveys. In May 2017, the OES program replaced 21 detailed occupations – found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) – with 10 new aggregations of those occupations. In April 2018, the BLS published new OES estimations using these 10 new aggregations.

Click here for OES classification changes.

For the 2018 projections cycle we chose to use the new OES aggregations for alternative projections in order to maintain consistency with the new OES coding system and to utilize all survey results. 

The separation method does not use these 10 new aggregations and therefore the staffing patterns ignored the 21 detailed occupations for one survey cycle as well as the 10 new aggregations. The separation estimations are published to maintain consistency with the coding system used nationwide for the 2016-2026 long-term projections.

Occupational projections

Industry projections
Control totals and matrices

Projections methodology

Appendices 1 through 5 of the employment projections report provide an extended explanation of the methodology for: 1. use and misuse of employment projections, 2. occupations in demand (OID), 3. skill projections, 4. frequently asked questions and 5. glossary.

Report data 

Wages by education  NEW 

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