Job opportunities in social assistance should be numerous through the year 2012. The number of nongovernment wage and salary jobs is expected to increase 47 percent, compared with only 16 percent for all industries combined. Expected growth rates for the various segments of the industry are 46 percent in individual and family services, 49 percent in vocational rehabilitation services, and 49 percent in community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services over the 2002-12 period. In addition to those arising from employment growth, many job openings will stem from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or stop working.
Projected job growth is due mostly to the expansion of services for the elderly and the aging baby-boom generation. Similarly, services for the mentally ill, the physically disabled, and families in crisis will be expanded. Increasing emphasis on providing home care services rather than more costly nursing home or hospital care, and on earlier and better integration of the physically disabled and mentally ill into society, also will contribute to employment growth in the social assistance industry, as will increased demand for drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs. Employment in private social service agencies may be spurred as State and local governments contract out their social services in an effort to cut costs. The expansion and creation of employment in the social assistance industry may depend, in large part, on the amount of funding made available by the government and managed-care organizations.
Some of the fastest growing occupations in the Nation are concentrated in social assistance. Compared with industry growth of 47 percent, the number of home health aides within social assistance is projected to grow 40 percent between 2002 and 2012. The number of social and human service assistants is expected to grow 79 percent, and that of personal and home care aides 68 percent. Overall employment of social workers will continue to grow, but not as rapidly as that of social and human service assistants.