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Chart of the month: Living in the future

There’s plenty of talk these days about how employment will change in the future, as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation see a decrease in traditional jobs, the emergence of new jobs, and more job transitions. But these forces appear to be sculpting the workforce already.

Take for example machine operators and factory workers. Back in 2000 these workers made up a much larger share of total employment than in 2018 (see Graph 1). Although the proportion of workers in these manual type jobs has decreased, manufacturing output still increased over this period. The decline in clerical workers is the most extreme example of this declining share of jobs, with administrative jobs being outsourced by the ability of programming to easily identify, perform and replicate routine tasks. The share of clerical workers has fallen from 3.9% in 2000 to 2.0% in 2018 – a 1.9 percentage point drop.

Graph 1

Automation doesn’t just destroy jobs; it creates them too. Rather than working at the machine people are now managing the machines. More managerial roles and ICT professionals represents some of where new demand for employment is increasing due to the transformative age.

To stay ahead in this transformative age, people need to think about what skills will be needed in the future. Hopefully restructuring towards more educational professionals pays off.

Other notable trends include the decline in share of farmers, likely due to consolidation of farming operations and land constraints. Also, the increased proportion of specialist managers may be exacerbated by fancy title creation.

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