Posts tagged ‘Bureau of Labor Statistics’

February 19, 2013

A warning to petroleum engineering students

by Grace

In the wake of a one-year jump of 55% in the number of U.S. petroleum engineering freshman students, it was reported that Texas A&M sent a letter to incoming students advising them to be realistic about future job growth.

Dear Admitted Aggie PETE Applicant,

The Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University, is pleased that you applied and were admitted to our top ranked petroleum engineering program. If you pursue a degree in petroleum engineering, our program is committed to providing the highest quality education available.

Recent data suggests that some concern about the sustainability of the entry level job market during a time of explosive growth in the number of students studying petroleum engineering in U.S. universities may be prudent.

Our advice is that you become aware of graduation projections and petroleum industry employment outlook for people with petroleum engineering degrees. For example, between fall 2011 and fall 2012, the number of freshmen in petroleum engineering programs in the U.S. increased from 1,388 to 2,153, a 55% jump in one year. Based on the many inquiries and applications TAMU is receiving for the petroleum engineering major, the number of U.S. students in petroleum engineering will probably continue a strong upward trend, as long as the employment market remains stable. These days, a very large number of people are already studying in petroleum engineering programs (see attachment, showing data made available through the Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE), at a time when: the number of recent graduates, who began their studies several years ago, is already at about historical highs and growing rapidly (see attachment); our program’s board of industry advisors are recommending that we “do not grow” our undergraduate program at this time; and oil and natural gas price projections and expectations of U.S. governmental policy influences are viewed as not particularly encouraging by the U.S. petroleum industry.

We are not trying to discourage you from a career that we think is among the most fascinating, dynamic, challenging careers that exist. However, we also want you to know that the Aggie PETE program is doing the right thing by providing you with information that could end up being important to your future.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 annual median pay for a petroleum engineer was $114,080, while the number of jobs in the ten-year period ending 2020 is expected to grow 17%.

Rig count numbers track oil well activity and serve as an indication of petroleum industry jobs.


I graduated with a degree in geology in 1977, which turned out to be accidentally fortuitous timing.  And it’s no surprise that I left the business around 1986, as did many geologists, petroleum engineers, and other industry workers.

Related:  Don’t pick a college major based on today’s hot jobs (Cost of College)

November 22, 2012

Most new jobs do not require a college degree

by Grace

63 percent of this decade’s new jobs will not require a college degree.

Industries and occupations related to health care, personal care and social assistance, and construction are projected to have the fastest job growth between 2010 and 2020.

The upward trend in healthcare jobs would seem to be consistent with a United States that is beginning to resemble Europe, with a declining birth rate and an aging population.

As the population continues to age, older groups of Americans are expected to have more rapid growth than younger groups. The 16-to-24 age group is anticipated to experience little population change, with a growth rate of 0.3 percent during 2010–20, while the population ages 25 to 34 is projected to grow 10.5 percent over same timeframe. Meanwhile, the 45-to-54 age group is expected to shrink by 7.6 percent, reflecting the slower birthrate following the baby-boom generation. As the baby boomers continue to age, the 55-and-older population is projected to increase by 29.1 percent, more than any other age group.

Low wages
With only one spouse working, most of these jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree are unlikely to support a middle-class lifestyle for a family.  But for a two-wage earner family, these jobs can provide a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.  Here are the income figures for the five occupations projected to add the greatest number of new jobs.

Table 2. Occupations with the largest numeric growth, projected 2010-20

  Occupation Number of new jobs added Percent change Wages (May 2010 median) Entry-Level Education Related Work Experience On-the-job Training
Registered Nurses 711,900 26 $64,690 Associate’s degree None None
Retail Salespersons 706,800 17 20,670 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Home Health Aides 706,300 69 20,560 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Personal Care Aides 607,000 70 19,640 Less than high school None Short-term on-the-job training
Office Clerks, General 489,500 17 26,610 High school diploma or equivalent None Short-term on-the-job training

A married couple working at any combination of these jobs would land above the “contemporary” poverty line – $33,686 for a family of four.  Based on the median wages from this chart, a registered nurse and a personal care aide would bring in a total income of $84,330.  However, it should be noted that the trend is for a nurse with a bachelor’s degree or a diploma to fare better in the job market.  But even combining the two lowest paying jobs from this chart would generate $40,200 total annual income.

Related:  ‘How Many College Graduates Does the U.S. Labor Force Really Need?’ (Cost of College)

August 24, 2012

Cautious outlook for nursing jobs

by Grace

In recent years nursing has been considered a safe career choice, with the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicting that employment of registered nurses will jump 26 percent from 2010 to 2020″.  But a closer look might make prospective nurses less optimistic about a rosy job scenario.

Thirty-six percent of nursing graduates in the class of 2011 had not secured positions as registered nurses (RNs) as of last fall, according to a survey conducted by the National Student Nurses’ Association in September. Respondents claimed that employers are seeking more experienced RNs, older nurses are slowing turnover by taking longer to retire, and new graduates are inundating the market.

Nurses graduating with bachelor’s degrees and diplomas fared slightly better in finding jobs.

Locally, recent layoffs at several hospitals have included nursing staff.  Earlier this month about 80 layoffs affected physicians, nurses, managers and support staff at Mount Vernon Hospital and Sound Shore Medical Center.  The reasons cited for the cuts were changes in the health care environment, particularly in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies, along with providing more than $30 million in uncompensated care to under- and uninsured in our service area.”  Meanwhile, within the last year nearly 700 employees at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla have lost their jobs.

The growth in outpatient care has affected the need for nurses in hospitals, but suggests that different types of employment opportunities may expand.

… Outpatient care and other less traditional settings, on the other hand, have a need for nurses with innovation, creativity and command of their field.

It’s possible that nurses in these settings may find more difficult working conditions.

My advice to a young person considering nursing as a career:

  • Don’t assume that optimistic job growth predictions will pan out as projected.
  • Get a bachelor’s degree or a diploma*.
  • Investigate the many types of jobs that nurses are doing, both in traditional and non-traditional settings.

* Diploma programs are the oldest and most traditional type of nursing education in the United States. These programs are two to three years in duration and provide nursing education primarily in the hospital setting. Graduates of these programs receive a diploma as opposed to a college degree. Most diploma programs are now affiliated with colleges or universities that grant college credit for certain courses. 

Last year I spoke with a student of a diploma program associated with a highly regarded New Jersey hospital.  She was extremely gratified that she had been offered a job by that hospital, which apparently does not automatically happen in every case.


November 1, 2011

‘How Many College Graduates Does the U.S. Labor Force Really Need?’

by Grace

“College for all” is being promoted by many, including President Obama, as being instrumental in ensuring a bright economic future for our nation.

“We are hurtling into a future dominated by college-level jobs, unprepared,” said Georgetown’s Carnevale. 

But when I look at the actual numbers of the fastest growing jobs, I see that we may be “overeducating” our future workforce.

Source: The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP)

Did you notice that 60% do not require a degree?

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked by the “fastest growing” bar. This is typically one of main planks of the “more college” crowd, but even among these jobs, 60% won’t require a degree.

“College for all” is not supported by Paul Barton’s data

Conventional wisdom has it that the demand for workers with college degrees is growing rapidly in the United States and will escalate. But the issue of what job qualifications will be important in the future and for whom is complex, with several threads of argument intertwined. First comes the very important question of how an individual can best prepare educationally to do well in the future labor market. Coupled with that question is the need for citizens to have an equal opportunity to attend and complete college, such access being key to the nation’s major problem of income inequality among racial and ethnic groups. Second is the question of how many college graduates the nation needs to produce, and with what skills, to ensure our national prosperity in an age of rapid technological change, globalization, and strong international competition….

Nevertheless, compelling evidence does not exist that there will be a rapid rise in the general demand for college graduates and a damaging shortfall in their supply sufficient to cause the United States to falter in the world economy….

The jobs that require postsecondary education credentials total 29 percent for 2004 and will rise to 31 percent by 2014. This is consistent with the very gradual increase in educational requirements that we have seen over the last six decades.

Related:  College Has Been Oversold

September 13, 2011

More education correlates with more spending on booze

by Grace

Your Bureau of Labor Statistics trivia fact of the day is that educational attainment is strongly correlated with alcohol expenditures.

I think that educated people are just drinking more expensive stuff.

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