Works for Me: Focus Your Job Search with Labor Market Research

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If you are looking for a job, or you are considering training for a specific career path, you need to know where the jobs are right now, where the jobs are growing in the future and which jobs will pay you enough to meet your personal and family goals. This knowledge is attainable with labor market data. Librarians at CLP’s Job Career and Education Center stay abreast of trends in the labor market to inform our job seeking patrons of the best options available to them.

There are a few favorite labor market data resources that our librarians use to help job seekers research growing industries. The ultimate national resource is the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes annually in print form, and makes available online at the link above.

The OOH data can be a little tricky to peruse, but fortunately it also informs many other career preparation resources, including Career Cruising, a database available to you at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Career Cruising not only highlights data provided in the OOH in an engaging way, it also allows you to take assessments that match your interests to potential career paths.

There are a few favorite labor market data resources that our librarians use to help job seekers research growing industries. The ultimate national resource is the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes annually in print form, and makes available online.

At the state level, Pennsylvania provides data on High Priority Occupations, which are job groupings that have an immediate need for workers. The most current data demonstrate, for instance, continued need for workers in the energy industry, including truck drivers; and ongoing growth in the robust health care industry, including a healthy need for registered nurses (roughly 4,300 jobs).

High Priority Occupations are available for Pennsylvania regionally, too, at this helpful spreadsheet. Select the tab “TR” for Three Rivers Workforce Development Area to find an abundant number of high priority occupations for the Pittsburgh region. A quick review of the highest priority jobs indicates growth in several health care industries, including Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, which reveals a whopping 36.4% growth in these jobs through 2022, and Medical Secretaries, for which there will be 3,640 job openings by 2022.

For additional regional labor market data presented in a different format, Partner4Work offers monthly analysis on where jobs are available in Pittsburgh. This report analyzes job availability by analyzing the educational attainment and skills requirements described in Pittsburgh area job postings. For instance, the January 2017 report reveals that many job postings require that applicants have at least a Bachelor’s degree. And, once again, we see that health care is a big industry in the region, with Registered Nurses at the top of the list for Top 25 Occupations. Top skills described in Pittsburgh job postings include Customer Service and for technology, Microsoft Excel. (Don’t forget, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Job & Career Education Center offers in-person classes on Microsoft Excel, and access to online video tutorials with Lynda.com, which you can access at no cost with a CLP library card).

In a different twist on labor market data, the JCEC recently conducted a survey about Pittsburgh residents’ interest in growing industries in the region. These industries were chosen based on information from a local report by the Allegheny Conference called Inflection Point, which provides an eye-opening look at where jobs are growing in the region’s future. JCEC staff collected survey answers using a poster hung in a public area, and the results can be seen here:

Based on the information in the resources I supplied above, what conclusions do you draw from the way the respondents answered the question?

Focusing your search by reviewing some of the tools above with the assistance of a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh librarian will help you make a decision about a new job or career path more easily. And, once you have that narrowed down, we can begin to help you find the next step in applying for your next job, or for the education you need to get there.

-Wes

Wes Roberts is Library Services Manager in charge of Workforce and Economic Development initiatives at CLP. When he isn’t perusing reports on the local labor market, he enjoys playing video games and reading science fiction, fantasy and horror novels.