June 14, 1999
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected trends in total employment fairly accurately since the 1960s, but the accuracy has not increased over time.
For three of the five periods shown in the chart, the projections of total employment growth were very accurate. Projected and actual employment growth were equal for 1960-70, at 20 percent. The 1980-90 employment projection (19 percent) was nearly identical to actual growth (20 percent). Additionally, projected and actual employment growth were very close for the 1960-75 period.
Projected and actual employment growth rates diverged the most over the latest period. Employment was projected to increase by a relatively modest 15 percent from 1984-95; it actually rose by 22 percent. There was also a sizable difference between projected and actual growth for the 1968-80 period.
Data on projections are produced by the BLS Employment Projections program. Find more information on the accuracy of employment projections in "The quality of BLS projections: a historical account," Monthly Labor Review, May 1999.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, BLS total employment projections usually close on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/jun/wk3/art01.htm (visited May 28, 2015).