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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Technology is giving rise to a new crop of middle-skill jobs for the millennial generation — but these are without the stability, pay or career ladders of the past.

The big picture: The first wave of automation-fueled job losses hollowed out middle-skill work — manufacturing positions that required some education, but not a college degree, and led to lucrative, lifelong careers. That left behind jobs mostly at the high- and low-skill extremes.

Among these new, middle-skill jobs is the "digital janitor," says Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future. "The more data we produce, the more digital detritus we throw out there," she says. And someone will need to clean it up.

  • Think Facebook content moderators and YouTube video screeners. "As good as AI is and will be, it will require these very human skills of discretion to be able to do that work," says Gorbis.

But these jobs come with issues.

  • Though they are physically safer than the manufacturing jobs of the 20th century, they can be highly stressful, exhausting and even lead to PTSD, as The Verge's Casey Newton reports in an investigation of the lives of Facebook's moderators.
  • Those digital janitors earn $28,200 a year. And such workers are typically hired on a part-time or contract basis.
  • When millennials are earning $15 an hour, or $31,000 a year, they are regarded as middle wage, even though that would not be sufficient to support the accouterments of the traditional middle-class American lifestyle.

But, but, but: These don't have to be "bad jobs" forever for millennials, Gorbis notes. Manufacturing jobs seemed like bad jobs before labor unions and regulators stepped in to improve pay and conditions, she says. "We made them into good jobs."

The bottom line: In the future, "I think there will likely still be lots of jobs for people with less education," says Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed. "The bigger questions are: What will those jobs pay? Will they have benefits and a predictable schedule? Will they lead to careers?"

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
55 mins ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.