Interest Gaps in the Labor Market: Comparing People’s Vocational Interests with National Job Demands

Kevin A. Hoff, Kenneth E. Granillo-Velasquez, Alexis Hanna, Michael L. Morris, Frederick L. Oswald, James Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vocational interest assessments are widely used to determine which jobs might be a good fit for people. However, showing a good fit to particular jobs does not necessarily mean that those jobs are available. In this respect, little is known about the alignment between people’s vocational interests and national labor demands. The current study used a national dataset comprising 1.21 million United States residents to investigate this issue empirically. Results revealed three major findings. First, around two-thirds of people were most interested in people-oriented jobs (i.e., artistic, social, or enterprising interests), with the remaining one-third being most interested in things-oriented jobs (i.e., realistic, investigative, or conventional interests). Second, the distribution of people’s interests did not align with U.S. job demands in 2014, 2019, and 2029 (projections), revealing large gaps between interest supply and demand. Notably, the most popular interest among people (artistic) was the least demanded among jobs, whereas the least popular interest among people (conventional) was highly demanded among jobs. Third, interest gaps were generally larger at lower education levels, indicating that higher education can provide more opportunities to achieve interest fit at work. We integrate these findings to discuss implications for individuals, organizations, and career guidance practitioners aimed at better coordinating people’s interests with available jobs to promote individual career success and national workforce readiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Future of work
  • Interest profiles
  • Job demands
  • Vocational interests
  • Workforce development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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