Labor Market Information for Career,
Workforce, and Academic Counselors

Welcome to this course which offers an introductory review of the basic information career, workforce and academic professionals need to know in order to provide the best advice to individuals deciding on a major, educational program, and career.  The information applies to advisers and counselors helping young people decide on postsecondary education and training, conducing career exploration, finding a job, and making a career transition.

This course is intended for career center professionals in all educational institutions, and career counselors and coaches in private practice and in workforce development organizations. However, the audience extends to practitioners in other levels of education as well as those who serve clients in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. This includes school counselors, career coaches, workforce development staff, HR professionals and others.

Course Objectives: At the conclusion of this online course, participants will be able to:

  • List what labor market information is and discuss why it is important
  • Understand that professional associations support the use of good labor market information in career and academic development
  • Identify credible resources to locate pertinent labor market information and use these resources to identify various labor market issues
  • Propose the kind of information to give individuals in various stages of career development based on scenarios.

Each section has some information for you to read, access, view, and internalize. When you are to read text, watch a video, or answer questions, this will be listed in red. All content and materials are copyrighted and for your use in this course – ONLY!

As you move through the course you will track your progress by answering questions on a work sheet.

Click the button to download the worksheet and save it to your computer. After each unit of the course you will complete the corresponding questions on the worksheet. You will be asked to complete an evaluation at the end of the course. One of the questions relates to the time it took you to complete the course requirements. Please be sure and keep track of the time so that we have an accurate reflection of the workload. At the conclusion of the course, email the completed worksheet to the course instructor. Your worksheet will be reviewed by the instructor and once found acceptable, you will receive a certificate of completion for 4.5 clock hours.

SPECIAL NOTE ON VIDEOS: Some videos have detailed information that may be difficult to read in some instances.  Be sure that you have the following settings on YouTube for maximum visibility and clarity. The setting should be HD and expand the window to the larger size or full screen, which ever works best.

What is Labor Market Information and Why is Important?

As you work with students and clients, their end result or goal most often is using their education and training to find employment. To help individuals determine where they might find a job and what fits them best, we often give assessments.

The use of assessments is useful because a person can make a better determination of where his or her passions lie and what you would enjoy doing, what kinds of jobs will support one’s values, and what kinds of skills and abilities are needed to be successful in the job.

The question remains, can you find a job in the career field or occupational group and can you actually build a career in the field? That’s where labor market information comes into play.

Career coaches and counselors need to consider labor market information as they work with individuals in career exploration or transition to be sure their client is being realistic about the employment and career management and advancement possibilities both nationally and locally.  Workforce development practitioners need to be knowledgeable about labor market information to help direct people to likely jobs.  Academic advisors and counselors need labor market information to better assure that their students and clients are preparing with classes, courses and certifications that will help them enter the workforce more fully prepared to take on the challenges and culminate in employment.

Data about employment by location and occupation, labor supply and demand, earnings, unemployment and demographics of the labor force make up what is known as labor market information. 

View this short video to get a feel for what labor market information is and how it can be used in career and workforce development.

READ this document Why LMI? to achieve a greater understanding of labor market information and its use in the US economy, jobs, and careers.

View this short video to see how one state uses labor market information to boost its economy and help its workforce.

ANSWER items 1-3 on your worksheet.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects and analyzes statistical data about jobs, trends and projections the labor market. State LMI agencies collect, analyze, and disseminate this data in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That information is then provided to other federal and local agencies so that students and clients can be better prepared for the conditions of the workforce both current and future.

Business People In MeetingEmployment statistics, job forecasts, wages, demographics, and other labor market information help public and private organizations, researchers, and others better understand today’s complex workforce. The data helps monitor and forecast national, statewide, and local economic trends, helping employers and job seekers make career, education, and economic development decisions. Better understanding employment trends and statistical trends help promote stable employment and economic growth.

For the student and client, labor market information helps answer questions like:

  • How many jobs are expected to be in an occupation?
  • Is the field growing or declining in importance in the US economy?
  • Which industries employ people in this occupation?
  • Where are the jobs?
  • What education and training might help me obtain employment in my chose field?
  • Will there be opportunities in the field I am considering after I complete required training or education?
  • What will I probably earn?
  • Where is the location with the greatest likelihood of finding a job?

For education and training institutions the questions might be

  • What occupations relate to the programs we already have developed? 
  • Are there any changes to the programs that are necessary?
  • What is the employment outlook for those occupations? 
  • What are wages for entry-level and experienced workers in these occupations? 
  • How do these wages compare to other occupations with the same education or training requirements? 
  • What other training providers offer this program? Locally? Regionally?
  • What industries employ these occupations? 
  • Who are the local and regional employers in each industry, and what is their size? 
  • What skill standards, certifications, or licensing requirements exist for the occupation(s)?
  • Which programs should my institution develop?

In this course, you will learn about many resources available to you to help you answer these questions for you students and clients, and even make recommendations to policy makers on career development services and programs.

READ the following article to see the kind of information produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that helps to predict what the job outlook will be like in the future.

Answer item 4 on your worksheet and then move to part 2 of the course.

Professional Standards and Labor Market Information

The importance of using solid, accurate and current labor market information as you work with students and clients has been recognized by several pertinent organizations.

First, the National Career Development Association has highlighted the importance of labor market information and included that as part of its guidelines for competent career counselors. They have indicated that competent career counselors demonstrate knowledge of “Education, training, and employment trends; labor market information and resources that provide information about job tasks, functions, salaries, requirements and future outlooks related to broad occupational fields and individual occupations.” Access the full list of competencies here.

The National Association of Workforce Development Professionals has included as part of the core competencies for their certified workforce development certification the following competencies:

  • Accesses, analyzes, and uses local, state, and national electronic and nonelectronic labor market information delivery systems and databases. 
  • Identifies the kinds of information individuals need, including assessment, in order to make realistic career decisions, and where that information can be found. 
  • Provides updated labor market information to employers, job seekers, and staff  to develop opportunities. 
  • Understands basic computer technology used in workforce development. 
  • Understands the types of labor market information available and the uses of such information. 

The full list of competencies are found here. Note how the competencies are interspersed within the various section of the core competency listing.

 The National Association of Colleges and Employers  (NACE) issued professional competencies for college and university career services practitioners.  With regard to labor market information, the competencies include to

  • Keep abreast of current sources and use of career, occupational, and employment information in providing clients with career coaching/advising/counseling services.
  • Use and refer clients to career, occupational, and employment information based on individual client’s background, learning style, and service delivery goals.
  • Research, evaluate, and recommend new sources and systems for providing clients with career, occupational, and employment information.

To access the full list of competencies click here.

NACE often does its own surveys to keep abreast of specialized trends and fields.  READ this example.  If you are a NACE member, there are many more such surveys available to you. If you are interested in a particular industry, you should check the associations related to them to see if they have specialized labor market information.

The Alliance of Career Resource Professionals created standards for computerized career guidance systems that encourage the accuracy and inclusion of content such as “the information may include general working conditions, the products and services the industry provides, the number of workers, the location or areas of concentration of employers, types of work, current market considerations, outlook for future growth, sources of further information (such as related occupations), and other topics. They suggest that the information should derive from reliable sources, and should be included for all relevant industries. See the various standards and expectations from that organization here

The Center for Credentialing and Education which supports and sponsors the Global Career Development Facilitator certification, includes labor market information as one of its core competencies. The National Career Development Association curriculum that leads to that certification includes extensive information and resources on labor market information.

As you can see, using accurate and current labor market information is not only good for the student or client, it is an expectation of our professional associations and certifications.

Complete item 5 on your worksheet and then move to part 3.

Important Labor Market Information Resources

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the best source of labor market information, bar none. Its information is used in many other tools like those shown below.  To get an idea of what BLS offers us in making decisions about life, career, our future and out success, view the video below.

Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)

Click on the link above to access this resource. Recently the Bureau of Labor Statistics revamped the OOH to make is more user friendly and searcheable.  The information is updated every two years with the most current information gathered from many sources across the country, from federal, to state, to local resources. Watch the video to receive an overview of the kind of information you can access from this website as you work with students, clients and customers. 

 View this in expanded screen or by clicking here

BLS often creates special reports on occupations and projections.  To receive an overview of the information on occupational and job projections through the lens of education, training and work experience view the video below or click here.

To get the latest document on education and training as they relate to labor market projections, click here. Read the contents of this document.

 Occupational Employment Statistics

Click on the link above to access this resource. This  is a great site with many details that will help you work with students and clients to find jobs in the right career, with the right job opportunities, and the acceptable salary possibilities.  View the video below or click here to get a quick overview of the content of this site.  As you review the video, think about how you can use the information with your clients.

State Level Information

Click on the above link to see information at the state level similar to what you saw in the previous section. Now view this short video to see how you can obtain labor market information for occupations in a specific state of interest.  This can provide information for a client who is interested in living in a particular state and wanting to see the projections for the job outlook and wages in the state of preference. View the video below  or click here to see how you can use this tool in your work.

State Labor Market Offices

Each state has a labor market office that gathers its own labor market information, uses the national information, provides more details on the job and wage outlook for the state and regions within the state, and produces resources for career, workforce and academic counselor to consider as they work with youth and adults in career preparation.  Each state is different, so you need to visit your state LMI office website to see what is available. Please click on the link above for the listing of state level offices and examine what is available in your state.  You may also be working with a client that is moving or considering moving to another state.  This information should help them with their decision making.

Projections Central

Click on the above link to access Projections Central. Clearly an area of interest for you as a coach or counselor is to know the projections for your state as it relates to specific occupations.  Projections Central is the place to go for that information. You can select your state and occupation of interest to see if it is anticipated to increase in numbers or decrease in numbers over a 10 year period.  You can even see the percent increase or decrease that is anticipated. If you are working with individuals who desire a job or career in a specific occupation with your state, you will be able to show them that the occupation will be more or less needed over a 10 year period. If you are a program director or academic advisor, you should consider the projections as you create programs and guide students into careers, particularly those that are declining in importance in your state.

View the video below  or click here to see how this works and how simple this is to use in your work with students, clients, and customers.

Answer items 6-9 on your worksheet and then move to part 4.

Part 4Using Labor Market Information with Your Students and Clients

Labor market information is only worth the trouble of collecting it if people use the information for career exploration, planning, and management.  To follow are several scenarios for you to read.  Read each scenario and  answer the association question on your worksheet.

Scenario 1: James is a high school student in his junior year. He gets good grades, but at this point in time he does not want to obtain and education beyond high school.  Despite having discussed career plans with his school counselor and parents, he does not really have a career field of particular interest at this time. His goal is to graduate high school and get a job.  Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook to identify for James the first 5 occupations that appear for persons with a high school diploma and those requiring an apprenticeship program.

This article will give you some suggestions on what you can do to help a person like James and others who may be thinking about future careers after high school.

Scenario 2:Roberta is working with you as a freshman in college.  She is trying to plan her academic program so that she is confident that she has a good employment outlook and future job possibilities and advancement.  She is asking you to help her find jobs with good job growth that require a Bachelor’s degree.  Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook to locate a career field that requires a Bachelor’s degree and has a projected growth rate for the next 10 years of 20-28%, with a projection number of jobs over the next 10 years of more than 30,000.  What is the first occupation that meets these criteria?  What is the likely salary range for this occupation?  

READ this article to see how occupations relate to education requirements. 

Scenario 3: Jerry and Deb are both accountants and have a thriving business in their current state. They are tired of being self-employed and want to find good paying jobs with other employers.  They have asked you to advice them about what industry would have the highest level of employment for accountants and which industry has the highest paying jobs for accountants so that they can base their job search on labor market information.  Use the Occupational Employment Statistics to find information to answer their questions.

Scenario 4: Jerry and Deb are so pleased with your assistance that they are asking you for more information. They have decided to make the move to another state, one where there is a good project for jobs and also the jobs are high paying. Use the Occupational Employment Statistics to select two states that meet their criteria by naming the top two states for employment and the top two for high wages.

To get a feel for the opportunities and challenges of entrepreneurship, READ the following article.

Scenario 5: You are the program coordinator for a higher education institution in the state of Illinois. Your administration has tasked you to review the state’s labor market information to be sure that there are educational/training programs for people in the highest paying jobs in the state.  Use the state information to find the top two highest paying jobs in Illinois  in the Protective Services occupational grouping that have more than 25,000 jobs.

Scenario 6: You are advising a person in your state regarding a career plan to become a logistician. The person is asking you whether or not this is a field where his or skills may be desired in the future.  Use Projections Central to answer this question. Is this field a growing or declining one in your state?  Indicate the percent increase or decrease.  How does this compare to national figures?  If this occupation does not happen to exist in your state, select another occupation that you work with or might work with in the future.

Place your answers to these scenarios on your worksheet.

Listen to these three podcasts to see how two other individuals use labor market information along with O*NET to help individuals in their states. Crank up your speakers and give it a go!

Ben Garcia on Labor Market Information and O*NET

SteveTurkowski on Labor Market Information

Labor Market and Data Analysis Helping Employers

Extra Resource for You.  Just out, the latest BLS projection to 2026! Click here.

Congratulations on completing this course!  Send your completed worksheet to Dr. Janet Wall for review.  Once your worksheet is considered complete, you will receive your certificate of completion for the designated clock hours. Please complete the evaluation.

Extra Resource