Hiring & Recruiting

Special Report from CareerBuilder—Changes in Workforce Composition, 2001–2014

Major demographic shifts in the United States since 2001 have led to a workforce that looks quite different today, according to a new report from CareerBuilder. Men are in a broader array of career fields, the number of occupations heavily represented by workers 55 and older has more than doubled, and white workers lost a share of employment in each of the 50 highest paying jobs.

The report, “The Changing Face of U.S. Jobs,” explores how an increasingly diverse population is affecting the composition of nearly 800 occupations by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. The analysis is based on data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI), CareerBuilder’s labor market analysis arm that pulls from more than 90 government and private sector resources.

Some of the key findings have been highlighted below.

Occupation Composition by Gender

  • Women make up a greater share of the workforce. In 2014, 49% of jobs were held by women, compared to 48% in 2001. That amounts to 4.9 million more female workers since 2001 compared to just 2.2 million additional male workers.
  • Men are performing a wider variety of work. Despite gains in overall workforce participation by women, men are gaining a share of employment in 72% of all occupations. Examples include gains in female-majority occupations like pharmacists, credit analysts, and physical therapists. Women gained a greater share of employment in just 21% of occupations, including male-majority occupations like labor relations specialists, landscape architects, and agricultural managers.


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  • Occupational segregation contributes to pay gap. Jobs with a high concentration of male workers pay significantly more per hour, on average, than jobs with a high concentration of female workers ($25.49 median hourly earnings for men vs. $20.85 median hourly earnings for women).
  • Women are losing a share of employment in high-paying jobs. Since 2001, women lost ground in 48 out of the 50 highest paying jobs, including surgeons, chief executives, and software developers. They gained a share among lawyers and political scientists.
  • Job losses have come primarily in male-majority jobs. Among the occupations that lost 10,000 jobs or more since 2001, 76% were male-majority occupations. As jobs went away in these fields, male workers had to find work in a broader array of occupations.
  • Occupations with the largest gains are mostly female-majority. Among the occupations that gained 75,000 jobs or more, 69% were female-majority. The largest gains in the workforce for women occurred in a smaller number of sizable occupations.
  • Women dominate college graduation numbers, but not in top-paying fields. While 5.6 million more women than men attained college degrees from 2004–2013, men continue to lead in programs that typically lead to higher-paying jobs, such as computer science (83% of 2013 grads), engineering (79%), law (54%), and postgraduate business (54%).

“We need to move beyond the simplistic, antiquated notions of pink-collar, blue-collar, and white-collar jobs and focus on bringing the best people, regardless of gender, into the roles required of a healthy economy,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “Men are contributing in a wider variety of occupations than at the turn of the century, and as women continue to make up a larger share of the workforce, we must ensure they have the same access and opportunity for success in all professions.”


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Occupation Composition by Age

  • The most dramatic demographic shift in workforce composition is age. The teenage workforce is 33% smaller than in 2001, while the age 55 and older workforce grew 40%. Jobs for young professionals (age 22–34) grew only 4%, while employment for workers age 35–54 shrunk by 1%.
  • Teens lost a share of total employment in 75% of occupations. Opportunities in many staples of summertime or afterschool work are significantly harder to come by for teen workers: hosts/hostesses (32% of all jobs in 2014, down from 45% in 2001), food prep/serving (14%, down from 23%), and ushers/ticket takers (12%, down from 23%).
  • Millennials lost a share of employment in high-paying occupations. Millennials are losing a share of employment in 69% of all occupations (averaging $25.85/hr) and gaining share in 29% of occupations (averaging $19.82/hr), including many jobs previously held by teenage workers such as cashiers, fast food cooks, and dishwashers.
  • The aging workforce is felt in virtually all occupations. Moreover, workers 55 and older make up 25% of the workforce in 210 occupations. There were only 86 such occupations in 2014.

“The implications of the aging workforce boil down to a simple question: As workers retire, will there be enough qualified candidates to fill the vacated jobs?” said Matt Ferguson, chief executive officer of CareerBuilder and coauthor of The Talent Equation. “When employment growth projections and replacement needs are taken into account, millions of high and middle-skill occupations will be available in the next decade. This will require workforce planners and talent acquisition executives to evaluate succession plans and candidate supply chains. With the right labor market data in hand, however, it’s a manageable task.”

In tomorrow’s Advisor, more from the CareerBuilder special report, plus an introduction to the all-things-HR-in-one-place website, HR.BLR.com.