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Caution for remote office and administrative support workers

Search Remotely Caution Office Support Workers

This article is to help our readers working from home anticipate changes that may impact their financial livelihood. Hidden in the BLS data is a note of concern and caution for remote office and administrative suport workers. We like to be upbeat, though. There was a lot of good jobs and employment data communicated in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections. But there was some troubling information too. Particularly if you are working in a traditional office seting or working from home in the Office and Administrative Support Sector.

The Office and Administrative support occupational group, in addition to two others: Production and the Sales Related Sector are expected to go the way of Retail. Meaning, these sectors are predicted to LOSE jobs over the next decade. Why? Automation, they say.

Office and Administrative Support jobs expected to see job decreases in the next decade:

  • word processors
  • typists

While the BLS did not add these occupations or call them out by name, bookkeeping, accounting, auditing clerks, customer service representatives, administrative services, facilities managers, desktop publishers, financial clerks, general office clerks and information clerks are also included under this blanket group of occupations.

Many of these jobs are held by those working from home or working from anywhere. Robert Half estimates that 15% of all remote job listings advertised in 2022 Quarter Two were for office and administrative support down  two percent  from 15% in comparison to 2022 Quarter One.

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Why is it that we have devoted an entire article to BLS projections and the corresponding Robert Half Remote Work 2022 Trends?

Because, according to the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) “clerical and administrative office workers will likely keep working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.” Research conducted during the analysis of millions of job postings on the internet last year, and cited by SHRM showed that the largest bulk of the increase in work from home jobs were clerical and did not require a four year degree as a prerequisite to employment. Based upon this analysis, these remote jobs and work from home occupations may be in jeopardy in the coming decade:

  • office support workers
  • legal support workers
  • financial clerks, and
  • information and record clerks.

But enough of the bad news. BLS does anticipate solid job growth in healthcare and social assistance occupations from 2021 to 2031. Even though this represents an increase from 158 million jobs to 166.5 million, the actual 0.50% growth rate represents a drop from the 1.0 annualized growth rate experienced during the prior decade (2011 to 2021).

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Healthcare jobs expected to see job increases in the next decade:

  • nurse practitioners,
  • physician assistants,
  • physical therapist assistants,
  • home health and personal care aides, and
  • occupational therapy assistants.

In reading through the report, it is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic and the decisions to lockdown large swaths of the economy has continued to have a huge impact. Both on current operations as employers slowly revive up production closer to pre-COVID-19 levels, and on futured output to meet anticipated demand pent up from almost two years of consumer hibernation.

In particular, BLS economists theorize that the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to increased demand for healthcare and social assistance services. Further, they point out specifically, that computer-driven occupations “are expected to have elevated long-term demand, in part due to increased business demand for telework computing infrastructure and information technology (IT) security.” In addition to cyber security, computational data science, mathematics and statistics are growth areas as well.

Information Technology and data science jobs expected to see job increases in the next decade:

  • data scientists,
  • information security analysts, and
  • statisticians.

Another industry sector believed to see exponential growth, according to BLS is the movie theater and motion picture industry. The economists project that this sector will grow about 70% over the course of the next ten years as it was basically glutted during the pandemic.

Movie Theater jobs expected to see job increases in the next decade:

  • video and movie projector technicians
  • ushers
  • lobby attendants, and
  • front booth ticket takers.

Of course, the leisure, travel and hospitality sector is expected to experience the fastest rate of employment growth of all sectors. This is due to the relatively low starting point on the account of the closures, mandated vaccinations,  PCR test requirements, and restrictive international and interstate travel related to COVID. In fact, BLS indicates that “seven of the top 20 fastest growing industries are in the leisure and hospitality sector.” And, it looks like the restaurant and bar establishments will come roaring back. BLS writes that this area is projected to represent the largest increase in employment of any industry (adding roughly 1.3 million jobs over a ten-year period).

Restaurant jobs expected to see job increases in the next decade:

  • servers
  • food preparation, and
  • cooks

It hasn’t been lost that the COVID-19 closures wreaked havoc on the global, national, regional and local economies. This devastation can be clearly detected in the employment data. The good news is that the BLS projects solid growth in the repair, maintenance services and personal care services industries.

Repair, Maintenance and Personal Care jobs expected to see job increases in the next decade:

  • home, appliance repair and maintenance
  • auto, bicycle, recreational vehicle repair and maintenance
  • beauty, spa, nails, cosmetologist, and
  • dermatologist, chiropractor, fitness trainers, gyms and fitness centers

Finally, having analyzed all of the sectors and their prospective rates of growth, BLS estimates that there are two sectors that expected to be leaders in job creation over the next ten years: healthcare  (additions of 2.6 million jobs projected) and social assistance. Why? Because the Baby Boomers who are 65 years and older are exiting the job market and may be in need for more healthcare services.

A countervailing aspect of the data is that older workers not yet reaching retirement age (55 to 64 years)  are found to exhibit higher employment participation rates than those of other age groups. These two forces, in fact, may trigger higher household allocations to healthcare expenditures. One group may spend more to manage the ill effects of old age, and/or to maintain their health, while the other may spend more to protect against the ill health brought about by old age.

The healthcare sector includes a sub-sector called, Individual and Family Services. What occupations are included within this sub-sector one might ask?  The US Office of Occupational Health and Safety  (OHSA) defines individual and family services as inclusive of: individual and family social welfare, therapy, counseling, and referral services. Under this umbrella are also services provided to refugees, or for natural disasters, and temporary relief services. How large is this subset of population?

Pew Research estimated that in 2019 about 30,000 refugees resettled in the US. By 2023, this figure is expected to expand fourfold to  125,000; the highest goal in several decades based upon the Biden Administration’s commitment to refugee resettlements.

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