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STATE EMPLOYMENT PROJECTIONS PROGRAM

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began producing national employment projections in 1960, and has continued on a 2-year cycle since the early 1970s. With methodological and other support from BLS, state labor market entities began producing state and local projections in the mid 1970s, and have continued on a similar cycle to that of BLS.

Over the years, the projections methodology has undergone many changes, as new data series became available and as economic, statistical and communications tools improved. Since the late 1970s, however, the basic methodology has remained largely the same. Both national and state projections follow the same methodology, except the factors included in the state projections are weighted to reflect the industry and employment conditions in a given state.

Both national and state long-term projections are created every two years and cover a ten year time-span, while only the states produce short-term projections, generally covering a two-year period. The latest long-term national projections are for 2008-2018; BLS will publish the 2010-2020 projections in late 2011. The latest state short-term projections are for 2010-2012 (although they are not all available for this period).

The State Industry and Occupational Projections Program has evolved from an informal process in the mid- to late-1970s to its current status. In 1995, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) awarded two America’s Labor Market Information System (ALMIS) grants that centrally coordinated efforts among the states and several key stakeholders. These key stakeholders include the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), ETA, BLS, and those states that perform specific functions within the projections program.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Key Stakeholders

Employment and Training Administration (ETA)  Serving as a member of the Projections Managing Partnership, ETA plays a key role in the State Projections Program by providing funds and oversight to ensure administration of the program.  ETA allocates funding for the State and Local Projections Program and the PMP through the Workforce Information Grants (WIG) and discretionary grants.  As stated in TEGL No. 03-10, in Program Year 2010, $32 million dollars of WIG funding is allocated to the states to develop, manage, and deliver state labor market information – part of which finances state projections.  An ETA-funded study released in 2009 estimated that almost one-third of the WIG allotment is used to produce and publish state and local employment projections.

The funding levels for the PMP have varied since 1995, with as much as $850,000 awarded in Program Year 2003 to as little as $175,000 the following year.  In PY 2010 this allocation was $650,000. Without ETA funding, the states would be unable to continue to produce reliable and comparable projections.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  BLS plays an important role from the beginning to the end of the state projections process. BLS serves as a member of the PMP, and provides Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey data to the states to prepare their own projections. BLS also provides inputs to the MicroMatrix system. MicroMatrix is a software system developed by Utah to enable individual states to create projections.

Projections Managing Partnership (PMP)  The PMP is the latest configuration of several previous groups that have collaborated to manage the State Projections Program. The PMP currently consists of 6 federal members from ETA and BLS, 10 members of the State Projections Consortium, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) as a non-voting member. The PMP is essential in standardizing the state projections processes.

The PMP provides states with guidance and technical assistance on projections requirements funded through the Workforce Investment Grants. The PMP State Chair oversees research, product enhancements, funding, a projections Web site, communications, and training. The Research Committees of the PMP provide recommendations for projections software system development, and oversee projections enhancement and research contracts.

The PMP’s current efforts to enhance and reduce the cost of the State Projections Program include 1) rewriting all the State Projections software suites from Microsoft Visual FoxPro (which is obsolete) to Microsoft C# programming language; 2) developing a complete computer training module for state analysts by Spring 2011; and 3) updating the State Projections Web site.

States and Territories  The main responsibility of the states is to produce timely and accurate employment projections, both long-term and short-term. The states produce occupational employment projections products, information and reports, and disseminate those products via the Internet. Certain states play leading roles in the State Projections Program components because of the specific skills the representatives of these states have brought to the Projections Managing Partnership. Below is a list of some of these states and their specific roles.

Colorado leads the redevelopment of the Projections Training Program, which was developed to provide training to state analysts on the state industry and occupational projections process. In addition, the Colorado Labor Market Information (LMI) Director serves as the PMP Chair.

Illinois’ LMI supervisor serves as the Chair of the PMP Oversight Committee and leads the Projections Review Process for Short-term Projections.

Colorado serves as fiscal agent for the PMP for ETA funding, and monitors and distributes the funds.

North Carolina conducts preliminary reviews of long-term and short-term projections from all the states before sending long-term projections to BLS and short-term projections to Illinois for formal reviews.  North Carolina also develops and maintains the Estimates Delivery System for the production of estimates from data collected for BLS’ Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program.

Utah’s Workforce Development Director serves as Projections Manager and oversees the PMP’s software development contract for the Projections Suite software, including its development, housing and maintenance, help desk support, and resources to the states.  The Projections Suite is an integrated set of desktop applications including Long-Term Industry Projections (LTIP), Short-Term Industry Projections (STIP), MicroMatrix, and the Data Preparation Module sponsored by the PMP.  This set of software tools is used by labor market analysts in approximately 40-45 states to facilitate the development of long and short-term industry and occupation projections.

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