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Expand chart
Data: Cognizant; Chart: Axios Visuals

While U.S. companies continue to vigorously seek new workers, growth in openings for some hard-core digitalized jobs — projected to be among the most prominent work in the future economy — have sharply slowed, according to a new report.

Quick take: The reported weakening in hiring may reflect the general U.S. economic slowdown. But, amid a 50-year low in joblessness, it also highlights the extraordinary volatility in the technology industry, the most reliably vibrant part of the U.S. economy.

What's happening:

  • Year-over-year growth in postings for occupations like data scientist, software engineer and computer scientist plunged to 9% last quarter, from 30% the first quarter, according to the latest Jobs of the Future index, produced by Cognizant and provided first to Axios.
  • The tech-heavy index, which Cognizant says attempts to track emerging jobs as the new economy unfolds, has been largely flat for two straight quarters (see chart above).
  • "A lot of companies have been on a hiring tear, but now they are seasonally constrained where they get their talent from," said Robert Brown, vice president at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work.

The big picture:

  • The U.S. jobs boom has gone on for 105 consecutive months, including a surge of 224,000 jobs in June, keeping the unemployment rate at 3.7%, with wages up 3.1%, well above inflation.
  • But as we have reported, the U.S. and the rest of the developed world have been undergoing a massive economic and technological transformation, becoming more automated and digital in a trend forecast to continue for years and decades to come.
  • The conventional wisdom is that many current jobs will either be eliminated or utterly changed.

Though no one knows precisely what work the new economy will require and create, Cognizant describes its index, launched last year and published quarterly at Axios, as a serious effort to puzzle out the shape of the new world. The index consists of 50 jobs that Cognizant regards as pillars of the future economy, including several proxies that the firm named itself, such as cyber calamity forecaster and master of edge computing.

  • The fastest growing occupations last quarter were career counselor (+326%) and fashion designers (+124%).
  • The biggest declines were technology consultant (-39%) and genetic counselor (-22%).

What's next: What no one disputes is that most people are going to have to undergo fundamental reskilling, either very soon or eventually, in order to keep up with the massive changes under way.

  • Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, tells Axios that companies are rapidly forming in-house reskilling programs and that, in addition, "there is a whole cottage industry coming up to reskill workers."
  • These reskilling programs have become a recruiting tool of their own: they are a way for a company to say, yes we are hiring for cooks, warehouse workers and clerks, but really we are a way-station for a tech job of the future that you can train for with us.
  • Hence, you have McDonald's saying it is spending $150 million in offers for college scholarships for employees and their families; Amazon spending $100 million to upskill employees into tech jobs; and Booz Allen is training about 1,000 of current employees in data analytics and visualization.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.