I Looked Up The Fastest Growing Jobs In America, And Boy Was It Depressing

If you live in certain buildings in New York, you get to know your doorman.

The weekend guy in my building, Gene, knew I was a business reporter, and on Saturday he asked me what his son should study when he starts at City College next year.

By the way, City College remains the primary option — and in fact a stellar one — for advanced higher ed in New York City for the children of what remains of New York’s working class.

Anyway, off the top of my head, I was at a bit of a loss. I mostly cover energy, an area that obviously has seen tremendous growth in the past few years, but I doubted his son would be interested in moving to North Dakota or Texas to work on an oil rig.

So I told him I’d look up what the fastest-growing job opportunities were in the country.

Each year, the BLS puts out a projection of occupations it expects to see the greatest growth in the next few years.

The results depend on if you’re looking at absolute or percentage growth.

But as I discovered, both contain their own depressing stories.

First, on a rate basis, there’s basically only one sector in the economy where labour demand is growing at a steady clip: health and medical. 21 out of 30 of the occupations listed in the table below are were in this field.

Besides that, you can maybe get away with some construction stuff.

But the apparent demand for both physical and mental therapy in the U.S. is enormous:

On an absolute basis, the data is miserable: The table consists of stuff like secretaries, food workers and caretakers. The median salary for the fastest-growing raw-numbers occupations, shown in the table below, is $US30,000. Compare that with the average first-year-out-of-college salary of $US45,000.

What’s more, most of these jobs don’t even require a college degree.

The scene in New York seems, at first glance, a bit better. The institutions with the most job openings — NYU, Columbia, North Shore-ILJ Health System and Bank of America — have more than 2,000 combined. And a search on jobs site Indeed of entry-level jobs in NYC turns up 1,000 results — in the grand scheme of things, not many, but nothing completely galling.

But overall, it’s clear this remains an extremely difficult labour market to navigate, especially for someone without a clear idea of what they want to be doing, which probably includes most 18-year-olds.

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