by Rachel Vilsack
One of the premier products of Minnesota’s Labor Market Information Office is our employment projections. Every two years, new job growth is estimated for industries and occupations over a 10-year time span. Current projections for Minnesota cover the 2010 to 2020 time period. Students use these employment projections to investigate future career paths; educational planners use them to sustain or justify a new training program; businesses and researchers use them to understand where future opportunities lie. All of them have World War II veterans to thank.
As the nature of work changed throughout the last century, the need to understand the types of occupations and their employment outlooks became critical. This was especially true in the 1940s when the United States was transitioning from an economy that stressed wartime manufacturing to one where thousands of service members would be returning home to find civilian jobs. When Congress passed the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, or the “G.I. Bill of Rights,” which provided educational opportunities to returning service members, the Veterans Administration (VA) wanted to provide information on employment opportunities and asked the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for help.
The BLS responded with a publication titled Occupational Outlook Information. It was used in VA educational program centers across the country, and on bases overseas, to provide veterans, who received training under the G.I. Bill, with employment outlooks for various career fields.
This information was not used solely by veterans. Vocational counselors and youth in school were also targets for this new career resource. Some of the first occupational bulletins published by the BLS covered the Employment Outlook for Diesel-Engine Mechanics and the Employment Outlook for Railroad Occupations. And, in 1949, the first comprehensive Occupational Outlook Handbook was printed and published by the BLS.
Today the Occupational Outlook Handbook is still available to help guide students, businesses, researchers, and veterans understand future employment trends. Online profiles cover hundreds of occupations, describing what they do, how much they pay, the work environments, and how to train for the field.