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The U.S. job market is brushing up against its best performance in a half-century, but certain occupations are in greater demand than most — those involving new or particularly human-led skills that seem least subject to automation.
Why it matters: The juxtaposition is not entirely fair, as the index involves only a fraction of the 163 million-strong U.S. labor force. Yet the result suggests that a broad sampling of future-pointing skills — and not just jobs like software engineering — is enjoying takeoff after struggling unevenly until now.
The big question: The index is made up of 50 jobs that have both a traditional and a digital component. It attempts to nibble at one of the most consequential questions of our age: What will happen with jobs in the new age of automation and artificial intelligence?
How it has worked thus far: All 50 jobs are indexed to the third quarter of 2016 (starting at 1.0). The index was negative before 2018: By the fourth quarter of 2017, “master of edge computing” was down to 0.82, “transportation supervisor” had fallen to 0.50 and “fashion designer” to 0.71.
Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, the freelance jobs site, said it’s no surprise that digital jobs are growing so fast. Upwork produces its own index, which tracks skills commanding the fastest-growing demand. He said particular skills are suddenly in great demand — for example, how to handle new software — but that the jobs dry up relatively quickly.
Making control units for tanks and airplanes in 1943. Photo: FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty
The U.S. government and private companies will need to pay $34 billion to reskill 1.4 million workers who may lose their jobs to automation in the coming years, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum.
Yes, but: Most of that cost will have to be covered by the government because only about 25% of it will be cost-efficient for business, Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum, told Axios.
What's happening: The World Economic Forum, meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, sought to put a dollar amount on the fundamental reskilling of the workforce that will be necessary against a huge wave of automation presumed to be on its way.
The report also said that 18% of those displaced, or 252,000 people, will not be reskillable economically, so the government will have to step in with public assistance.
Photo: Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
Some female Oracle employees were allegedly paid around $13,000 less per year than male employees doing similar jobs.
Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes: That's the result of an analysis included in a proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of women who are accusing Oracle of gender bias, Wired reports.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut.— Plaintiff Marilyn Clark to The Guardian, on discovering a male colleague's salary
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
How Huawei wooed Europe (Adam Satariano, Raymond Zhong — NYT)
A shaky economic outlook for China (Courtenay Brown — Axios)
Why Uber wants to build self-driving scooters (Timothy Lee — Ars Technica)
Micropayments were a promise of the early web (Zeynep Tufekci — Wired)
Why are Indian farmers angry? (The Economist)
Aaaachoo! Photo: Getty
Don't go outside with wet hair, and drink lots of orange juice. These are preventative measures against the common cold that American parents have been telling their kids for decades — but none of them are supported by science, writes Axios' Erica Pandey.
Why it matters: The common cold costs the U.S. $40 billion per year in medical costs and the indirect toll of missed work hours, per Quartz. Compare that to the $10 billion cost of the flu.
The good news: Almost all parents surveyed said they tell their kids to avoid sick classmates and wash their hands regularly — two habits that are indeed proven to prevent catching the cold.