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Solar panel installers work in California. Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Even "jobs of the future" have been derailed by the intensified pandemic, but positions in environmental services are still growing strong.

Why it matters: The economic carnage created by the coronavirus has curtailed job growth even in professions that seemed poised to expand in the future. As long as the pandemic remains out of control, the future of employment remains mostly on pause.

By the numbers: The consulting company Cognizant's Jobs of the Future Index — which charts openings in employment sectors affected by the digital revolution — fell by 5.6% in the last quarter of 2020, and declined by 35.3% for all of 2020.

  • Even jobs in sectors that seem certain to grow in the future declined, with openings in algorithms, automation and AI falling 37% over the year as companies froze business investment.

What they're saying: "To a certain extent, the jobs of the future have been postponed," says Robert Brown, co-manager of Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work.

The other side: One category that experienced continued growth in job openings even during the depth of the pandemic has been the environmental family.

What to watch: Whether openings in high-tech sectors like AI begin to pick up again, which would be a sign that businesses are out of survival mode and ready to plan the future.

The bottom line: Until we truly beat the pandemic, the future will be on hold.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New Energy Department roles look to animate Biden's campaign themes

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The burst of Biden administration staffing picks announced yesterday revealed that the Energy Department (DOE) has newly created roles that reflect what President Biden called campaign priorities.

Driving the news: One new position is "director of energy jobs," which is being filled by Jennifer Jean Kropke. She was previously the first director of workforce and environmental engagement with Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."