In 2022, you probably want to be working in health care, and you may want to be living in New Mexico or Greenville, NC

Cool article — fun with maps! — on The Atlantic Cities by way of Richard Florida recently, which details, essentially, job growth in the U.S. in the next 10 years. Here’s what you basically need to understand about all this.

1. You would start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 10-year projection data. Basically, by 2022, about 161 million Americans should be working. That’s a 10.8 percent increase over 2012. One-third of that increase comes from just four fields: health care, health care support, personal care (which you could argue is health care), and construction. Basically, America is building things and the Baby Boomers are dying. That’s your “flippant comment” analysis of the picture.

2. Now check out this article, which explains that 1-in-6 jobs in 2022 could be from about eight total fields.

3. At this point, if you have high-school aged children, you should seriously start pushing them towards health care.

4. Now go back to the main article and check out this map, which tracks overall job growth from 2012 to 2022.


What you’re looking for above is the dark blue patches; those are the areas of greatest job growth across all categories. This map, then, provides no context as to where certain types of jobs — say, service industry vs. creative — will appear (there are other maps at the link which do that), but rather serves as an overall picture of job growth between 2012 and 2022. So where are the dark blue areas? Predictably, many are in the Northeastern corridor (the center of America’s wealth), although there are arguments that jobs/people may shift away from Boston/NYC/DC eventually too. Texas and parts of North Carolina and Florida have job growth in the dark blue too — Texas makes sense (oil and energy drive us), North Carolina makes sense (innovation hub) and Florida makes sense (we naturally gravitate to warmth). Down in Arizona, you see a pocket of blue in Tucson — makes sense, as its a college town (a lot of college town pockets of blue, as they’re good areas for growth) — and most of the Midwest/Rust Belt appears to be in the two lowest job growth categories. One of the most surprising pockets here is that upper corner of New Mexico, which is dark blue. New Mexico job growth right now is lagging the region — by some estimates, it’s 1.5  years behind the recovery pace — but seems poised to grow by 2022. If you look at the subsequent maps on the main Atlantic Cities link, most of that part of NM’s growth is going to be in construction and transportation (“working class jobs”). This mirrors other cities like Odessa (TX) and Grand Junction (CO). That Santa Fe/Albuquerque/New Mexico in general area is fairly low on creative-type job growth. So there’s a whole context there of “overall picture” vs. “types of jobs.”

5. Now check out this map, which basically looks at where creative jobs will be in 2022. This is kind of a way of looking at the concentration of knowledge/intellect in America in eight years (vaguely).


There’s clearly a coastal gap here. To cite Atlantic Cities:

The metros with the highest proportion of creative workers are familiar – Boston, Washington and other East Coast metros, and the Bay Area, Seattle and Portland on the West Coast. But other metros will see share of the creative class increase to substantial levels – including parts of Texas, Atlanta, and some Midwest metros. Greater Washington D.C. is projected to top the list in 2022, with nearly half (47 percent) of its workforce in creative class positions. The creative class will make up 40 percent or more of the workforce in Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina (45 percent); San Jose, California (45 percent); Ann Arbor, Michigan (44 percent); Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey (43 percent); Boston, Massachusetts (42 percent); Boulder, Colorado (41 percent); and San Francisco, California (40 percent). The metros with the lowest shares of creative-class workers will be in parts of the old South and Sunbelt.

Notice anything about that list? Durham? Ann Arbor? Boston? Boulder? San Jose? With the possible exception of the last one, those are all basically major college towns. (Boston is a major metropolis, yes, but at heart it’s also a gigantic college town.) This is the way the economy is shifting, then: maybe 20-30 years ago, recruiters poached from college towns. Now the towns themselves are hosting the start-ups and building the companies. That’s a legit shift that affects HR, business operations — essentially everything.

Most of the growth in working-class jobs will come in the Midwest/South (reinforcing stereotypes), but the job growth won’t be amazing. Consider:

These basic trends will continue over the next decade. Between 2012 and 2022, the U.S. will add 15.6 million new jobs, according to BLS projections, with the overall workforce growing by 10.8 percent from 145 to 161 million. Of these, 5.6 million will be high-wage, creative class positions. The creative class will grow by 12.5 percent, the highest rate of all groups. The country will add another 7.4 million low-wage, low-skill service jobs, a 10.5 percent growth rate. Finally, the country will add 2.7 million blue-collar, service-class jobs – with most of that growth in construction and transportation jobs. The overall working class job market will grow 9.1 percent. Of these, just 75,000 will be in direct production work; the high paying factory jobs that provided the backbone of the middle class a generation ago will see a growth rate of less than 1 percent. By 2022, production workers will make up just 5.5 percent of the American workforce.

Look at those last two lines. By 2022, production workers will make up 5.5 percent of the workforce. At the same time, the current union participation rate is at an all-time low. Basically, if you’ve lived in America from about 1960 to now, you’ve almost lived in two different countries, economically. That’s a drastic shift. Kinda weird to think about, right?

Ted Bauer