Apr 21, 2021 - Economy

The jobs of the future are getting back on track

Annual change in Q1 2021 Cognizant’s Jobs of the Future Index
Data: Cognizant; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

While digitally enabled "jobs of the future" are still below their pre-pandemic level, new data suggests they are on the way back.

The big picture: The U.S. labor market is recovering faster than expected thanks to a so-far successful vaccination program and massive stimulus spending. Future-focused jobs suffered even more during the pandemic than employment as a whole, but the category is set to take off later this year.

By the numbers: The consulting firm Cognizant this morning released the first-quarter numbers for its Jobs of the Future Index, which tracks growth in new jobs in the digital and automated economy.

  • The 28.8% quarter-on-quarter increase of the index marked its greatest gain ever over the past two years.
  • All eight of the job families within the index experienced growth in the first quarter of 2021, with Fitness and Wellness (+137.8%) and the Transport (+38%) sectors emerging as the top performers.

What they're saying: "We've rebuilt the essential job class, and now companies are beginning to think strategically about the jobs of the future," says Robert Brown, vice president at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work.

  • That doesn't automatically mean tech jobs.
  • The biggest single gainer by far was Caregiver/Personal Care Aide, a reminder that hands-on care will be a growing job category for an aging population in the future, now that vaccines have made in-home visits safe again.

The catch: Even with strong first-quarter growth, the index still posted a year-on-year decline of 22.2%.

  • And as Kevin Roose reported in the New York Times today, many workers in tech and other white-collar fields may take advantage of the disruption of the pandemic to rethink work altogether.
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