When it comes to getting the skinny on every aspect of just about every career choice or type of job available in the U.S, you would be hard-pressed to find a more reliable and dependable resource than the Occupational Outlook Handbook. One of the most useful elements of this handbook is the data it compiles from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to gauge the short-term outlook for finding gainful employment within its broad spectrum of industrial categories. Of course, predicting the future remains firmly within the domain of pseudo-science, but having some idea of your potential future for employment should always play at least some role in making life choices regarding the kind of work you want to do. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, if you have dreams of making it into the following careers over the next decade, you may want to reconsider all your other options.
United States Postal Workers
The outlook for the occupation of United States Postal worker was at one time inviolate, offering the kind of job security that those graduating college today can only dream about it. The rise of UPS, FedEx and e-mail has transformed that Great Wall of Job Security into a gate made of toothpicks. The Occupational Outlook Handbook has forecast dire times across the board for the USPS. Letter carriers, sorters, processors as well as clerks and managers are all expected to routinely face the possibility of being downsized right out of a job. Which translates into an ever-tightening job market for those looking to get in on the ground floor.
Air Traffic Controllers
The most recent edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook continued to forecast the same rather gloomy future for entry-level positions in the air traffic control field. Reasons for this forecast mainly focus on the intense competition among those seeking a career where the median salary is around $75,000 a year and the continued shriveling of the airline industry due to mergers and rising prices. Of course, this prophecy of dark skies overhead was published before the highly publicized rash of close calls and near-misses at airports around the U.S. If the media decides to keep the spotlight on the danger posed to airline passengers by short-circuits in air traffic controller system, the future could quickly transform to one that is much brighter.
Factory and Industrial Workers
Industrial workers of the world may be uniting, but not in America. The country’s sharp left-hand turn from a manufacturing-based economy to a consumer-based economy has made the post-WWII shift worker that helped turn America into the globe’s pre-eminent superpower all but obsolete. Today’s high school graduate eschewing higher education is far more likely to find low-wage employment selling products manufactured in factories on the other side of the world than to find job security in a local factory like his grandparents. The call for tool and die makers, loading machine operators, lathe operators and all those other factory jobs that used to be plentiful across the Rust Belt are all expected to experience further declining numbers.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook has forecast disappointing job outlooks for a number of career choices that do actually seem to defy the reality out on the street. Perhaps proving that statistics are not as dependable as they seem or, just as likely, revealing that a local perspective is not enough to provide the whole picture. Take, for example, the Handbook’s expectation for a declining need for professional shampooers. A street level forecast for this blue-collar job would seem to indicate the opposite by virtue of the omnipresence of hair and nail salons across the strip malls of America. In fact, if there is any other industry more representative of the strip market economy than hair and nail salons, it would be fast food. Despite this--and seemingly against all odds--the Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts a decline in the numbers of fast food cooks that will be employed into the 2020s. Perhaps this forecast is not just coincidentally related to the book’s much more optimistic outlook for restaurant chefs and institutional cooks. Another industry which will offer tough competition is journalism, despite more 24-hour news channels being added to cable lineups, local TV stations expanding their newscasts and the uncertain potential for news in the ever-expanding world of streaming networks.
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Image Sourced: Dissapointing Outlook
By National Institute of Standards and Technology (National Institute of Standards and Technology) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons