Small employers are creating jobs at a breakneck pace. Here are the industries they're influencing, and the opportunities that lie within them.
Big and small employers alike created some 2.1 million jobs in the last year alone, averaging nearly 200,000 new jobs per month since December, according to the Department of Labor.
At that kind of breakneck pace, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects total employment across the country to grow by 13%, from 145.6 million jobs to 164.5 million, over the next 10 years.
So where will those 18 million-plus new jobs be?
"Almost all the job growth is from small and mid-sized companies," says Allan Schweyer, president of the Human Capital Institute, an employment researcher group based in Washington, D.C.
Through a variety of sources--from labor statistics to payroll executives--we've compiled a list of 10 of the hottest industries for job growth in the years ahead. Some, like computer systems designers, are pretty obvious; others, like truck drivers, may be a surprise.
In fact, while the long-term gains in the labor market are spread out among a wide variety of fields--from restaurants to retailers, hospitals to accounting firms--some industries are simply heating up faster than others.
That's because both the labor market and the labor force are changing, according to payroll, staffing and human resource executives.
Over the next 10 years or so, gradual shifts in the makeup of the population--the single most important factor in determining the size and composition of the labor force, according to the BLS--will not only effect who's working, but also where and why.
Take baby-boomers, for instance. While the U.S. population as a whole is expected to grow by over 23 million within the next decade, the cohort aged 55 to 64 will increase by a third, or about 10.4 million people--more than any other age group. By comparison, the number of 16- to 24-year-olds will grow by just 2.9%, while 35- to 44-year-olds are expected to decline.
As the population gets older and lives longer--soon becoming the wealthiest group of retirees in history--job opportunities across several sectors will no doubt expand. But a few, including healthcare, arts, entertainment and recreation, and financial services, which cater to both the needs and desires of a retirement-age generation with money to spend, are projected to grow by leaps and bounds.
"We'll see small businesses growing around all of this," says Michael Alter, president of SurePayroll, a Chicago-based online payroll firm.
But the population isn't just getting older. It's also growing. Despite recent wrangling over the nation's immigration and foreign worker policies, minorities and immigrants will have changed the face of the U.S. worker considerably by 2014, creating a larger and far more diverse labor force.
Also, the number of women either working or looking for jobs will grow by 10.9%, compared to just 9% for men, according to the BLS. While men's share of the labor force is expected to shrink, from 53.6% to 53.2%, women's share will see a slight uptick, from 46.4% to 46.8%, the BLS reports.
All these factors, and more, will reconfigure consumer demand and other broad economic trends--perhaps the biggest being an ongoing shift from a goods-producing to service-providing economy. Of all those 18.9 million new jobs out there, a full 18.7 million fall under service-oriented industries, BLS figures show.
By contrast, employment in goods-producing industries, once the cornerstone of the American economy, has now been flat for over a quarter century, and is expected to decline by 0.4% over the next decade. One area that will stay strong, however, is construction. Sure, the housing market is cooling off; but as the population grows, so too will the need for single-family homes, co-ops, condos and apartments, along with a rising demand for office space.
Here's our list of the hottest job sectors in the coming decade:
While many of these industries draw big players, many smaller firms are also in the game, or at the very least play a crucial supporting role, adds Elliott.
For first-time job-seekers, he admits working for big companies has advantages: "But smaller companies tend to be far more nimble with offering a caring, family-oriented environment." Beside, he says, it's far easier to be recognized for your skills in a smaller pond.
That's where most of the best opportunities will be. According to Carlos Gutierrez, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, small businesses are creating up to 80% of net new jobs every year, reflecting more than half of all private sector employment.
"It's easy to assume that this is an economy of large corporations," Gutierrez said in Washington on the opening day of this year's National Small Business Week. But it was small business owners, he said, that are "risking capital every day" in new ventures and ideas, and are keeping the economy--and jobs--growing.