WINCHESTER — Data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday showed that total employment in the United States is projected to grow from 153.5 million to 165.4 million from 2020 to 2030. That would mean an increase of 11.9 million jobs across the country, an increase of 7.7%.

Much of that, the BLS data showed, comes in the form of 9.3 million jobs attributed to the COVID-19 recovery from the low base-year employment for 2020 and its associated recession.

The BLS data isn’t broken down by state or region for these projections. Other BLS data, however, does show current state economies.

According to that data, the civilian labor force in Virginia has teetered around 4,235 the last six months. It grew from 4,238,000 to 4,247,000 between March and August. With that, the employment numbers for the last six months, starting with March and ending with August, have been 4,023,000, 4,028,000, 4,040,000, 4,050,000 ,4,065,000, and 4,078,000.

Over that same period, the unemployment rate in Virginia dropped from 5.1% to 4%.

Local leaders said they believe the Northern Shenandoah Valley is poised for growth heading into the future.

Patrick Barker, Executive Director of the Frederick County Economic Development Authority, said the current economic COVID-19 forecast data for Winchester and Frederick County shows an expected 10,765 new jobs in addition to the current 60,879 jobs in that area.

Barker said the data showed accommodation/food services, health care/social assistance, transportation/warehousing and manufacturing as sectors projecting to add 1,000-plus employees in the future.

“Obviously these projections are very aggressive projections and the success of obtaining and perhaps exceeding these will rely heavily on our community’s ability to collaboratively work to create, retain and attract talent of all career paths,” Barker said.

“As we look at the anticipated growth in employment across the Shenandoah Valley and Shenandoah County, at the local level, we are working to strike a balance between that growth in both economic investment and population while simultaneously preserving the rural landscape that is what so many value here in Shenandoah County,” said Jenna French, Shenandoah County’s director of tourism and marketing. “This takes proper planning and strategic partnerships. As we embark on the drafting of the 2045 Comprehensive Plan, the County has a great team poised to implement that vision and we strike that balance to ensure a bright future for the county.”

The BLS projects most of the jobs across the country will come in the health care support, personal care and services, food preparation and serving, computer and mathematical, arts, design, entertainment sports and media fields.

The most negatively impacted fields include production, sales and office and administrative support.

Healthcare support, personal care and food preparation and serving-related occupations are projected for rapid employment growth, mainly due to recovery growth following low 2020 base-year employment, the report said.

Computer and mathematical occupations are expected to see fast employment growth as strong demand is expected for IT security and software development, in part due to increased telework spurred by COVID-19, the report also explained.

The projected fastest-growing occupations through 2030, which exclude occupations with above-average cyclical recovery, include wind turbine service technicians, nurse practitioners, solar photovoltaic installers, statisticians and physical therapists assistants. The projected fastest-declining occupations include word processors/typists, parking enforcement workers, nuclear power reactor operators, cutters/trimmers and telephone operators.

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com

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