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Data: Cognizant; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Many of the digital jobs of the future have suffered during the later stages of the pandemic, while in-person health care jobs are on the rise.

Why it matters: Automation and digitization will profoundly change the U.S. labor market, but that future has been delayed as COVID-19 forces companies to shift into survival mode.

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

  • For the first time since the index was launched at the end of 2016, postings for jobs of the future declined in the third quarter while job postings overall rose.
  • Jobs in the algorithms, automation and AI family fell by 13.2% in Q3, while jobs in the fitness and wellness family rose by 42.8%.
  • Home health aide grew by nearly 300% year-on-year, as the pandemic increased demand for health care at home, while health information manager/director fell the most over the year, declining by 56%.

Flashback: Early assumptions — including by me — were that the pandemic would accelerate the adoption of automation, but the sheer economic carnage means that change hasn't yet been reflected in jobs.

What they're saying: "The jobs of the future are collateral damage of the pandemic," says Robert Brown, vice president at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work. "American companies are focused on keeping the lights on rather than investing in digital growth."

Yes, but: This doesn't mean the disruptive effects of automation and AI have been postponed permanently.

The bottom line: Don't drop out of that AI course yet.

Go deeper: How COVID-19 reshapes the jobs of the future

Go deeper

Nov 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

Touchless travel could threaten airport jobs

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Air travel is becoming a touchless, self-directed journey, which poses a threat to traditional airport customer service jobs.

Why it matters: Automation and artificial intelligence have long been viewed as a threat to jobs, but the unprecedented disruption that the coronavirus pandemic is posing to the travel industry could have lasting workforce implications.

Axios roundtable on the future of the workforce

On Wednesday November 18 Axios' Sara Fischer and Dan Primack hosted the second in a series of three virtual roundtables, featuring policymakers, academics, and nonprofit leaders to discuss the workforce recovery after COVID-19 and the importance of digital tools, skills, and access.

Markle Foundation Chief Operating Officer Beth F. Cobert and Google.org Head of Impact and Insights Andrew Dunckelman highlighted how the pandemic has accelerated a shift to online businesses, citing research from the National Skills Coalition that reported that 1 in 3 American workers has limited or no digital skills. Roundtable participants discussed how to approach that critical digital skills gap and more broadly, the pandemic's affect on businesses and workers.

Sonja Diaz, Founding Director at UCLA's Latino Policy & Politics Initiative discussed how to create policy solutions for the businesses most acutely affected by the pandemic.

  • "A lot of the gains made by minority businesses have been outside of the regulatory sphere, meaning that they've been able to do this because of personal connections, community connections. They're under-financed and under-banked. So if we think about policy interventions, we know that tailoring and centering them on the needs of women and minority owned businesses is going to be a return on investment."

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) highlighted how the digital economy is a critical part of COVID-19 economic recovery.

  • "I think what the Americans are waiting for right now is the opportunity to have something really big and bold that speaks to them about their future and their jobs. And I certainly think that the digital economy can be built right into that."

Traci Scott, Workforce Vice President at the National Urban League stressed the importance of meeting users where they're at in terms of digital skills training.

  • "We would have virtual job fairs, but what we found is that people didn't know how to work Zoom. They had never navigated through Zoom. So then we realized that we had to go even deeper in our training just to train individuals on just how to use something that we all take advantage of."

Trevor Parham, Founder and Director of Oakstop and the Oakland Black Business Fund discussed how to see digital tools as something beyond just economic exchange.

  • "We need to focus not just on tools that are going to allow people to create economic transactions, but on whether it is technology or other tools or infrastructure that is going to allow us to restore our ability to be a real human community."

Read the recap of our first roundtable event here.

Thank you Google for sponsoring this event.

Nov 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Journalists face volatile media landscape

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has been a nightmare for thousands of journalists out of work —and for additional thousands trying to navigate jobs amid fear and uncertainty.

Why it matters: Recent departures, deals, layoffs and restructurings amid the pandemic have journalists questioning whether there's stability anywhere within the industry.

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