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Pittsburgh Perspectives  

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Monday, March 25, 2019  03:00 PM  (18)

Understanding Regional Occupation Shifts 2010-2017

Moderate employment growth for the Pittsburgh region in recent years masks ongoing shifts in types of jobs in demand within the regional workforce.  While total nonfarm jobs in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) increased by just 5.4% between 2010 and 2018, far greater employment gains and losses are taking place within specific occupations.Recent changes in Pittsburgh region employment across major occupation groups are summarized in the table below.  

These employment shifts are compiled from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupation Employment Statistics (OES) program which conducts a semiannual survey designed to produce estimates of employment and wages for specific occupations. OES data for 2010 and 2017 is compiled from the previous six semi-annual panels conducted in May and November of each year. The groups reported on here are the major occupation groupings of over 800 detailed occupations defined by the Department of Labor's 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. 

Pittsburgh region jobs in Personal Care and Service occupations have experienced the largest gains, increasing just under 53%, from 31,210 jobs in 2010 to 47,710 jobs in 2017.  The 2nd largest increase came in Computer and Mathematical occupations, which jumped over 44% from 26,340 regional jobs in 2010 to 38,100 jobs in 2017. These two occupations experienced the largest gains in terms of both the net increase in jobs in the Pittsburgh MSA, and the percentage increase in jobs over 2010 levels. Regional jobs in Healthcare Practitioners And Technical occupations increased over 11% between 2010 and 2017, but Healthcare Support occupations experienced the greatest regional declines, contracting by 20% over the same period. 

Some of these shifts may represent changes in the SOC classification system, reclassification of existing jobs or modification of job definitions that result in shifts between major occupation categories. For example, most of the regional increase in Personal Care and Service occupations comes just from a nearly four-fold increase in Personal Care Aides from 5,680 jobs in 2010 to 20,750 jobs in 2017.  Over the same period, most of the decline for Healthcare Support occupations is concentrated in the number of Home Healthcare Aides which contracted from 12,600 jobs in 2017 to 5,460 jobs in 2017. 

Because national employment growth exceeded growth in the Pittsburgh region between 2010 and 2017 (US: +14.3%, Pittsburgh: +5.4% ),  it is unsurprising that national employment gains exceeded Pittsburgh levels in 17 of the 23 major occupation groups.  Despite lower overall employment growth, the Pittsburgh region exceeded national employment gains in five major occupation groups: (1) Computer and Mathematical, (2) Protective Service, (3) Life Physical and Social Science, (4) Management and (5) Personal Care and Service occupations.  The table below compares the rate of employment growth in the Pittsburgh region to comparable national rates across all major occupation groups. 

Pittsburgh region employment in Computer and Mathematical occupations had the largest gains in excess of national-level increases, expanding 44.6% between 2010 and 2017, while comparable national growth was 29.8%.  Within this major occupational grouping, the largest estimated increase in jobs was concentrated in workers classified as software developers, applications, which increased 155%, from 3,240 regional jobs in 2010 to 8,290 jobs in 2017.  


1  Job growth calculated from Current Employment Survey (CES) data


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