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Replacement Jobs: a key component for finding in-demand jobs

December 8, 2008 by Emsi Burning Glass

In this data spotlight we take a look at the top occupations with a high number of replacement jobs. These job openings are not due to overall economic growth but to normal turnover in the workforce, including retirement. Even in industries experiencing total employment decline, replacement jobs are often plentiful.

The occupations were selected based on: (1) high overall national employment, (2) total job growth, and (3) total number and % of replacement workers.  We also eliminated jobs with earnings below $14 per hour.

The important thing to note about replacement jobs is that the total number of workers that need to be “replaced” in any given industry on an annual basis often actually exceeds total job growth. In the news we often only hear about an industry’s growth or decline, which is measured by the number of new jobs or the loss of jobs. There is hardly ever anything about the turnover rates within those industries, which can create tremendous employment needs despite growth or decline. This is particularly true in industries like manufacturing, rail transport, or utilities, which might have such high rates of turnover or retirements (think baby-boomers) that they actually face worker shortages despite being in decline.

The Results

The first table details how our selected occupations have changed from 2002-2008, and the second represents the projected change in these occupations over the next five years. EMSI’s projections are based on historical trends, current employment surveys, and state/federal agencies’ ten-year labor market projections. Note the number of projected replacement jobs that will need to be filled over the next five years.


(Click on table to see full-sized image)


Here’s the distribution of the highlighted occupations in the U.S.


  • All of the occupations reported growth.
  • Three reported significant growth (>10%) in new jobs:
  1. Customer service representatives: 12% and 252,000 new jobs
  2. Registered nurses: 14% and 324,000 new jobs
  3. Computer systems analysts: 14% and 66,000 new jobs
  • Five require on-the-job training, which means that in many cases you wouldn’t need to seek a new degree to get these jobs.
  • The total job growth in new jobs was 1.3 million, the average occupation growth was 8%, and the average earnings was $19.86 per hour.
  • The most notable figure is the replacement jobs.
  1. From 02-08, 21% of these occupations were replaced, which is nearly twice the total new job creation.
  2. All of the occupations except Secretaries (9%) had to replace more than 10% of their workforce.
  3. Overall these occupations needed roughly 2.1 million replacement workers between 02-08.

In our projection scenario, the numbers are a little more dampened. Overall the sector is projected to grow by 9% with a need for 11% replacement workers. Note: we imagine that these figures will change as our current economic turmoil is reflected in the data.




  • Again, the most notable figure is the new and replacement jobs.
  1. From 08-13, overall these occupations are projected to need roughly 1.7 million replacement workers (or 11% of their workforce) in the next five years.
  2. Seven of the 11 occupations are projected to replace more than 10% of their workforce over the next five years.
  3. Computer systems analysts, Elementary school teachers, RNs, (First line supervisors) Managers of offices, and Electricians all make greater than $20 per hour.


Despite the media’s focus on job growth (which is important), it is critical to consider the replacement needs of a given occupational or industry sector. “High-growth” occupations do not always include “high-demand” occupations. Moreover, often high-growth areas are the first to be hit in an economic downturn, while replacement needs continue to hold steady in other areas that may show stable or declining total employment numbers.

We encourage you to look at replacement numbers for your region. If your area has experienced a major layoff and people need new opportunities, seek out local employers who employ these occupations, and discuss their potential needs over the coming years. In addition, work with dislocated workers to see if they could be transitioned into occupations that have a great need for replacement workers.

If you have questions about this data, or would like to take a closer look at what this means to your region, give us a call. For more information contact Rob Sentz at [email protected]

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