Outlook 2012: Elder care drives local job growth in next decade
CAPITAL REGION Aging baby boomers in the Capital Region are mostly responsible for the fastest-growing professions in the region.
According to James Ross, the Capital Region labor market analyst for the state Department of Labor, health care-related professions in general are likely to see a boost in the immediate future as boomers continue to age. Based on projections from the state, this population is directly responsible for seven of the 11 occupations expected to grow the most from 2008 to 2018.
It is really a simple issue, says Ross, who cites the example of his 88-year-old mother’s frequent dental trips as evidence of a demand for medical treatments. “Their bodies age and need more work to put everything together,” he said. By 2018, jobs for personal and home care aides are expected to grow by 50.6 percent from 2008. This jump would see the number of Capital Region jobs in this field rise from 3,340 to 5,030.
BASED ON THE BOOMERS
The other jobs in the top 11 that directly benefit from the region’s aging population are, in descending order of growth: Home health aides Physician assistants Physical therapy aides Medical scientists, excluding epidemiologists Dental hygienists Dental assistants. These fields are projected to increase at a rate of between 26 percent and 32 percent. “We’ve been projecting growth in health care for a number of years, but these rates are accelerating and should hit a plateau soon,” Ross said.
Karen Jarosz, the office manager of Gentle Home Health Care in Scotia, said she thinks there is room for growth in a lot of these fields because of insurance changes. In her profession specifi cally, she said more seniors are able to take advantage of home services and want to.
As for whether she is in the fastestgrowing field, Jarosz had some doubts and stressed that she has seen the business fluctuate in the last 15 years.
The top 11 jobs also included electrical and electronic equipment assemblers and networks systems and data communications analysts, both with projected growth of around 40 percent. Jobs for biochemists or biophysicists and electronic engineers, excluding computer engineers, are expected to grow at a rate of about 30 percent.
Ross said these professions have benefited from increasing technology investments in the area, such as General Electric’s battery plant and the presence of computer chipmaker GlobalFoundries in Malta.
PROJECTIONS, NOT FORECASTS
These numbers are all based on projections the state puts together every two years that start with a set of industry projections that are filed with the state’s Division of Budget. This data is combined with responses companies complete about a breakdown of the occupations in their company, and the result is the state’s predicted occupations of growth.
Ross said that sometimes the numbers will reflect changes in demand, like in the banking industry during the 1980s and 1990s. He said a shift away from tellers, with the advent of ATMs, resulted in banks focusing on new aspects of the business, which resulted in a boost in sales jobs.
Evolving technology could be responsible for some changes in the Capital Region, said Ross. He pointed to a decline in fi le clerk jobs and the corresponding rise in the electronic jobs that have made the former obsolete. The system isn’t perfect though. “These aren’t forecasts. They’re projections. Obviously no one knows what will happen in 10 years.”
Faults in the projections can occur with entrepreneurs, who don’t fit existing trends, or rapid changes in technology. “Some shifts might not be captured immediately,” Ross said.
Labor Department offi cials hope people use this data for their own purposes. “The purpose of the projections are so people who are deciding about what occupation to go into, or what training to get, can find where the growth is supposed to be strong,” Ross said.
NEGATIVE GROWTH JOBS
These people would want to avoid the 10 jobs that are experiencing negative growth in the Capital Region, which are:
Photographic processing machine operators
Cutting and slicing machine workers
Extruding and drawing machine workers File clerks Multiple machine tool workers Order clerks Prepress technicians and workers Postal workers Paper goods machine workers. Many of these jobs have become outdated because of technology. Just missing the 10 fastest disappearing list were reporters and news correspondents, who numbered 250 in the Capital Region in 2008 and are expected to decrease by 24 percent to 190 in 2018. For the purpose of these projections, the Capital Region includes Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties.