Katz says the challenge is to move those jobs up the skills ladder. There's no reason, he says, that home health care workers couldn't be better educated to provide patients with greater value and, as a result, command higher wages to improve their own living standards.
"So [by] professionalizing those types of jobs, we could have a very optimistic vision of an economy," Katz says.
How that might square the goal of spending less on health care isn't clear.
Katz argues it wouldn't necessarily require spending more on education, but rather changing what's taught to focus more on different skills like problem solving, interpersonal relations and teamwork.
Once again this decade, the BLS is projecting that the health care sector will be a leader in producing new jobs: 4 million of them, including high-skill, high-paying jobs like doctors and nurses. The service sector, which includes health care, is expected to produce a whopping 96 percent of all new jobs, while manufacturing employment continues to shrink.
For job seekers, Sommers says nursing combines a huge number of openings with high pay — a median wage of more than $62,000 a year.
"Accountants [are] another one that's expected to grow pretty rapidly and pays around $59,000 on an annual average," Sommers says.
Less Training Required
For those who want to spend less time in school than accountants and nurses, but still make good money, Sommers suggests firefighting or becoming a sales representative for a manufacturer — especially one making technical and scientific products. Sales representatives can make about $70,000 a year, she says.
Finally, over the next decade, the best-paying, fastest-growing job that also requires little training is truck driving. According to the BLS, the folks driving the big tractor-trailer rigs earn about $37,000 a year on average.
Jobs On The Horizon
Katz thinks it could take half a decade or more just to get to the employment levels we had two years ago. Still, he expects that during this new decade, the U.S. economy will eventually create 15 million new jobs, with the unemployment rate falling to around 5 percent.
Employment Future: The Decade Ahead In Jobs
Interactive: The Decade Ahead In Jobs
The real question, he says, is what kind of jobs they'll be. "The worrisome trend is something I've called the polarization of the labor market."
Katz says the U.S. has experienced this for the past 15 years or so. It results in strong job growth for the high-paying jobs and the low-paying jobs at both ends of the labor market, but less growth in the middle to replace the well-paying manufacturing jobs the U.S. is losing.
Projections for the next decade from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that elements of that basic trend will continue.
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