By Elvina Nawaguna
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of United States jobs is forecast to increase by 10.8 percent in the next decade, with fastest growth in the healthcare sector as it serves an aging population.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment projections for 2012 to 2022 released on Thursday said the United States will see nearly 16 million jobs added in that decade.
Even with this increase, growth in the civilian labor force is expected to slow to 0.5 percent annually in the next decade. That would be down from the 0.7 percent annual increase between 2002 and 2012, and potentially hurt economic growth.
Slower growth in the labor force could reduce the increase in gross domestic product to 2.6 percent annually from 2012 to 2022, compared with the at least 3-percent annual growth in the last two decades, BLS said.
The slowdown in U.S. labor growth is partly due to declining birth rates and low international immigration rates, both needed to sustain the country's population growth.
A large number of baby boomers are expected to retire from the workforce in the next 10 years, as they will be between 58 and 76 years old in 2022. The U.S. civilian labor force will be older and more ethnically diverse in 2022, BLS predicts.
Jobs in the healthcare and social assistance sector are projected to have the fastest growth, adding about 5 million jobs by 2022, a 13.6 percent increase, followed by a 13.3 percent increase for professional and business services, and 12.4 percent increase for state and local government jobs.
The spike in healthcare jobs will coincide with an increase in healthcare needs for aging baby boomers and the expansion of health insurance coverage.
BLS also projects faster growth for jobs that require at least postsecondary education. Workers with a post secondary education or more earned a median of $57,770 in 2012 compared with $27,670 for jobs requiring a high school diploma.
The construction sector, which took a hit during the economic downturn, is also poised for rapid growth, adding 1.6 million jobs by 2022, but still will not return to its prerecession highs.
Employment is expected to decline in manufacturing, federal government, agriculture, information and the utilities industries.
(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)