Unemployment and Occupational Outlook

Logo of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a stylized five-pointed star.

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to play out across the United States and the world. Perhaps nowhere else are these impacts most starkly observed than in the number of Americans who have lost their jobs. In the last five weeks, over 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment. These numbers are staggering, vastly surpassing the unemployment numbers of the 2008 financial crisis. Whether you are graduating next month, or you yourself are part of the newly unemployed cohort, you may find yourself wondering what work is available to you. 

Fortunately, there are freely available tools for assessing current job offerings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) maintains a routinely updated Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). According to BLS, the OOH is "a career resource offering information on the hundreds of occupations that provide the majority of jobs in the United States."

The OOH provides a profile for each individual occupation that describes typical duties, work environment, typical education and training needed, median pay, and the job outlook for that occupation. Each OOH profile is in a standardized format so that different occupations can be easily compared, including by metrics such as project change in employment. Occupation profiles also includes links to sources for employment, wages, and projections data by state and area. 

If you are currently experiencing unemployment and are seeking information on how to apply for benefits, please see the usa.gov unemployment help page for information on unemployment benefits and other programs and services to assist those experiencing joblessness.