Poll : Where Will the Jobs Come From?

7

Last week we spent some time exploring the future of the workplace. For this week’s poll, let’s explore a closely related question — the future of work itself.

A century and a half ago, most of us worked on farms. A century ago (or even 50 years ago) most jobs took place on a factory floor. Today’s workforce includes a vast array of occupations in a wide variety of settings.  Services and information technology have been the big growth engines for jobs over the past few decades, but there is some reason to doubt whether that will continue.

Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress predicts that the major job engine of the near future will be personal services. He believes we are heading towards what he calls the Yoga Instructor Economy:

The people of the future will be richer than the people of today, and therefore will more closely resemble annoying yuppies. Nicer restaurants are more labor-intensive than cheap ones, and the further up the scale you go the more specialized skills (think sommelier) come into play. Annoying yuppies take yoga classes, or even hire personal trainers. Artisanal cheese is more labor-intensive to produce than industrial cheese. More people will hire interior designers and people will get their kitchens redone more often. There will be more personal shoppers and more policemen. People will get fancier haircuts.

This hardly sounds like a model for economic growth, at least in traditional terms. One of the commenters on the piece linked below suggests that such an economy is like everyone making a living scratching everyone else’s back. But is it?

Walter Russel Mead at Via Meadia argues that job growth will increasingly have to come in areas that aren’t easily outsourced or automated. He offers making sense of widely available information as a prime example:

Value added intermediation is the rationale for a whole range of services that entrepreneurs will be building in coming years.  You might have a family tech agent that for some reasonable fee reviews and manages your communications life: helping you select the right phone package for your family’s patterns and needs, advising you about major electronic purchases, making sure you get the most out of your equipment and software, serving as your tech back up and troubleshooting.  When something goes wrong you don’t call New Delhi; you call the people down the street.

So where will the future jobs come from? Will more of us be personal communications consultants, party planners, and yoga instructors?

Tell us what you think — what sector will experience the most job growth over the next 20 years? In lining out the options shown below, I have relied heavily on a list of high-job-growth sectors from a 2010 piece in Forbes, plus I have added the heading “Personal Services” to cover the Yoga Instructor Economy jobs that Yglesias and Mead described. There is of course the option of “Other” for those who think I’ve completely missed the boat — please elaborate in the comments.

There is also an option for those who believe we won’t see any substantial job growth in ANY sector. Again, if you choose this option, please elaborate.

3 Comments

  1. [...] criteria.) Maybe we all get stock in companies and manage our portfolios for a living. Maybe we all do each other’s laundry. Maybe the whole economy gets reorganized around consumption with us all competing in some highly [...]

  2. 2011-07-30 14:41:43

    Since inventer/entrepreneur isn't listed (and has a serious entry-level restriction as well), I chose entertainment as imagination still can't be automated, a fact Hollywood insists on re-testing every year (Cowboys And Aliens anyone?). The technology used to express and distribute one's imaginings will certainly change, which will create employment/personal funding opportunities for many others as well, but the originality of thought that goes into story telling will offer the greatest opportunity to the most people, I think. Learn as much as possible about as many different human cultures as you can and you will discover a near-endless source of entertainment (in a variety of presentation formats; documentary, comedy, drama, etc) for your fellow's to pay you to experience. Anyone can tell a story, of course (which is kinda the point here), but telling one well takes talent, which can be crafted and honed with a little willingness to expend the personal effort to learn the techniques and technology and some practice. Bonus opportunity, the mastery of which would lead to opportunities in other venues such as instruction or as a specialist in a given technique for other's storys. If Aubrey De Gray is right, we're going to have a lot of people with a lot of time to occupy.

  3. [...] Originally posted here: Poll : Where Will the Jobs Come From? | Transparency Revolution [...]

  4. 2011-07-29 20:03:24

    The real purpose of the economy is human well-being. If you get sick, or more pointedly, if your child is sick you will happily trade all of your flat-screen TVs, exotic vacations, and trendy restaurants for good health. If you've got your health -- well you know how that saying goes. That's why I voted for healthcare. I don't need another house or a pedicure.

  5. 2011-07-29 19:06:40

    I can make a case that manufacturing and IT will both make a comeback. Here's the logic. At the rate of cost increases in all of the low-cost countries such as China, Brazil, Argentina, India, etc., low-cost countries will very quickly rise to become equal in cost to the USA and eventually will be more expensive than the US and Canada. Essentially, they will eventually price themselves out of the business. There are consultants recommending to not build manufacturing facilties in China because of the rapidly growing costs. We are already seeing this in the IT industry where Argentina and Brazil's costs are equal to USAs. We're now seeing jobs moving from Argentina to India. I also believe there will be a severe basklash in offshoring to India. While there are some highly skilled people over there, only a small minority of technical college/university graduates are good enough to work for US corporations. There have been numerous instances where the quality and productivity is poor and while they are low-cost, they also offer low value. This is also true in China, but it's not quite so severe. The point here is that a lot of out-sourced projects have been repatriated and some companies have pulled out of India entirely. I expect this to continue, especially as the costs rise over there - on the order of 25%+ per year.

  6. [...] See more here: Poll : Where Will the Jobs Come From? | Transparency Revolution [...]

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  4. [...] criteria.) Maybe we all get stock in companies and manage our portfolios for a living. Maybe we all do each other’s laundry. Maybe the whole economy gets reorganized around consumption with us all competing in some highly [...]

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