What are the jobs of the future? Repeat that every night as you drift to sleep.
During the 2001 recession, the U.S. economy lost 3 million manufacturing jobs. Most economists think those job will never come back. It’s not because they were shipped overseas (one of the stupidest mental images ever … you can’t put a job in a box and transport it). The real reason is that manufacturing output is higher than ever. Our factories simply produce more product using less labor. The entrepreneurial / technological spirit has squeezed efficiencies onto the factory floor while squeezing people off it.
There were 17 million payroll employees in manufacturing before the recession, and now there are only about 14 million. That’s a 20 percent decline in less than ten years. Do the math and tell me how many manufacturing jobs will still be around for the next generation …
Clearly, the time is now to figure out what occupations and sectors will replace the physical production of goods. While we all know the answer in the abstract is “service jobs,” in fact that answer is useless in its breadth. Too many people fear that service jobs is shorthand for menial, dead-end jobs. Fight that notion with this test: run through ten people you know best, and figure out which of them is NOT in the service sector? Pilot, soldier, radio show host, writer, fire fighter, professor, secretary, architect … keep going.
In my years of research on this topic, a one must-read piece stands out: the 2003 annual report of the Dallas Fed. This 1800-2000 time series chart of the percentage of the American workforce in 3 sectors is worth at least two thousand words:
Material production is becoming so automated that service consumption is the key to understanding future employment in terms of service production. So if you really think that everyone in the future will be flipping burgers, then you also have to believe that everyone will be consuming nothing other than burgers.
The trends show that major increases in consumption will be in health care, education, entertainment, art, and even the movies. (That was a joke, Troy, I honestly do think your movies are art …). And that's where the jobs of the future will be: health care, education, entertainment. More pro sports, more physical therapy, more nurturing of younger and younger children, more training, more video games.
What do you think?