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As N.H. economy grows, teachers’ jobs are shrinking

  • Jena Libolsi sets up her room for kindergarten at Loudon Elementary School in 2015. Total employment is supposed to grow 1.6 percent between the end of 2016 and the end of 2018, adding more than 11,000 jobs and boosting almost all sectors. But the education industry is the odd man out, expected to contract by 508 jobs. {(GEOFF FORESTER/Monitor staff)} GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor file

  • Total employment is supposed to grow 1.6 percent between the end of 2016 and the end of 2018, adding more than 11,000 jobs and boosting almost all sectors. But the education industry is the odd man out, expected to contract by 508 jobs. Teacher Heather Ouellette-Cygan discusses the movie ‘Office Space’ during her 11-grade Media Literacy at Concord high school. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor file



Monitor staff
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ask a youngster what she wants to be when she grows up, and she might tell you a doctor, a teacher, a scientist or a pilot.

Three of those four jobs are projected to be among the fastest-growing fields in New Hampshire over the next year and a half.

Then, on the other hand, there are teachers, who will have fewer opportunities available than they do now, if New Hampshire Employment Security’s jobs forecast comes to pass.

(Scroll down for a searchable spreadsheet that includes more than 600 occupations.)

Total employment is supposed to grow 1.6 percent between the end of 2016 and the end of 2018, adding more than 11,000 jobs and boosting almost all sectors. But the education industry is the odd man out, expected to contract by 508 jobs, according to the most recent update of the short-term employment predictions released this month by the labor bureau.

That includes teachers and their assistants from elementary school to high school, who as a group will shrink by roughly 0.8 percent.

Michael Argiropolis, a market analyst for the labor bureau, said this is one of the trends resulting from the state’s aging population. Public school enrollment has shrunk 11 percent over the past decade, according to state Department of Education data.

“Before, you could rely on 1 percent growth a year related to the population. Now you can’t do that. It’s flattened out,” Argiropolis said, adding, “We see that elementary schools especially are taking a bigger hit, but we’re starting to see it in colleges and universities, too.”

On the upside of this demographic shift are health care workers. In terms of sheer jobs added, registered nurses, nursing assistants and personal care aides are three of the top four growth fields – comprising nearly 10 percent of the total new jobs.

This is a well established trend that came as no surprise to Argiropolis.

“You do see, I like to say, the usual suspects over and over again on occupations,” he said. These also include some of the fields that employ the most people – such as retail and food service jobs – which can easily add a lot of jobs despite modest growth because of their magnitude.

Of the top 10 occupations by number of jobs added, only two require a bachelor’s degree. Half require no formal education at all, including cooks, landscapers and janitors. Argiropolis said that has made him wonder about the large share of high school students that take on debt to go to college. But ultimately, he said, it’s not a problem.

“There’s always been more waiters and checkout clerks than other occupations because the other occupations – say, that require a college degree – are pretty much dispersed over a wide variety of occupations,” he said.

That’s borne out when viewing the data by percentage change, which features some more niche jobs that are growing. Seven of the top 10 require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Proportionally, the fastest-growing job is commercial pilot. This relatively small group of 227 workers – compare that with 14,000 nurses – is projected to increase to 254 by the end of 2018 for an 11.9 percent gain. Statistician is the only other job to crack 10 percent, and they’re an even smaller group at roughly 140.

Nurse practitioners, web developers, personal finance advisors, information security analysts and physical therapy assitants also appear near the top of this range.

Broken out into 23 industries, all but “educational services” are projected to add at least a few jobs. The former, which employs more than 67,000 people in New Hampshire, is supposed to shrink by 508 positions, or 0.8 percent.

 

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)