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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.

13 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

14 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."