A paper published earlier this year in the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (Aaronson et al., 2006) contains a summary table reporting four different projections of labor force growth out to 2014 based on the authors’ model and estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Social Security Administration. For 2007, the projections range from a low of 0.6 percent growth to a high of 1.1 percent growth. For 2014, the projections range from a low of 0.2 percent to a high of 0.8 percent.
The magnitude of these differences is stunning. Based on these projections, if the unemployment rate remains about steady next year we can expect average monthly growth of employment ranging from a low of about 70,000 to a high of about 120,000. These are rough, rounded off estimates—to provide the estimates any other way would imply a false sense of precision. On the same basis, in 2014, the range is from about 30,000 to about 100,000 new jobs each month. These are very large differences. Moreover, given that each of the models used to produce these estimates is subject to error, in fact the range of uncertainty is even greater than the numbers just quoted.