About Michael Mandel

Chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington; Other affiliations:president, South Mountain Economics LLC; senior fellow, Mack Center for Technological Innovation, Wharton; former chief economist, BusinessWeek; author of the textbook "Economics:The Basics" (2nd edition).

Some Surprising Occupations That Are Shrinking

Hunting for jobs is still tough these days, no matter how low the unemployment rate has dropped. Selectivity is the name of the game for employers. And if you are a job seeker sending out hundreds of resumes, you know that the labor market recovery is still uneven.

Indeed, South Mountain Economics has crunched the numbers, and discovered that some key occupations are actually shrinking. For example, employment in healthcare support occupations such as nursing aides and medical assistants is down by 1% over the past year, as hospitals cuts costs. Education, training and library jobs are down by 0.3%, as state and local governments tighten their belts. And surprisingly, the BLS is reporting that architecture and engineering jobs are down by 1.1% over the past year, though it is likely that some categories of engineers are growing. South Mountain Economics will do further analysis on these shrinking occupations to understand the underlying dynamics.

Meanwhile, jobseekers should know that some occupations are growing like gangbusters. Computer and mathematical occupations are up by 7.6%, or 297 thousand jobs, propelled by the shift to the data-driven economy. Construction and extraction occupations are up by 4.9%, or 353 thousand jobs, driven by the revival of the housing market and by the energy revolution. And healthcare practitioner and technical occupations are up by 3.8%, or 309 thousand jobs.

A full list of growing and shrinking occupations can be found here.


The Economist on Innovation and Job Growth

A new Economist article on “Silver lining:How the digital revolution can help some of the workers it displaces” cites SME president Dr. Michael Mandel on innovation and jobs:

That is a very good thing in the eyes of those who see the rich world’s problems as a matter of too little innovation rather than too much. Michael Mandel, a technology expert at the Progressive Policy Institute, reckons that innovation is generally followed by growth in employment. That is most obviously true in ICT, but also in sectors like energy, where fracking technology has generated an oil boom and a jobs bonanza in states such as North Dakota and Texas. Mr Mandel invites sceptics to imagine a future in which doctors can 3D-print livers (and other organs) on demand—a technology that looks increasingly realistic. In addition to the significant health benefits that would result, organ printing would create new jobs, from workers to monitor the printers to nurses for the patients receiving transplants.

In addition, the same article cites an article that Dr. Mandel did for the Progressive Policy Institute:

E-entrepreneurship received a boost in 2008 when Apple launched its app store, through which third-party software designers could market their own iPhone applications. The “app economy” has since grown by leaps and bounds. According to an estimate by the Progressive Policy Institute, a think-tank, in 2013 it provided work for more than 750,000 people in America alone.


How We Define ‘Emerging Occupations’

The conventional way to define ‘emerging occupations’ is to use the official list of ‘new and emerging’ occupations put out by O*NET, a government-funded source of occupational information.  Unfortunately, that list is mostly composed of many older and unexciting occupations, such as allergists and immunologists, investment fund managers, radiologists, securities and commodities traders, and surgical assistants.  These and many other occupations on the list have been around for many years, and really don’t deserve the term ‘new and emerging’.

Moreover, the O*NET list includes quite a few occupations for which there are currently very few or none job listings nationally. For example, “nanotechnology engineering technician” is on the O*NET list…but as of September 12, there were no want ads nationally for such a job title. The same thing is true for “climate change analyst.”

Conversely, the O*NET list does not include many obvious emerging occupations such as social media and digital marketing. Notably missing, in addition, is anything to do with mobile, wireless, smartphones, or app developers.

So we do not use the O*NET list. Instead, our definition is that an emerging occupation is new enough that it has not yet developed clear career paths or clear job titles. In other words, it’s hard to tell from a job title whether you are appropriate for the job. Moreover, in an emerging occupation, you can expect to have to help define your job yourself, even after you have started.

Take “information security specialist,” an ever-more important job in today’s world of nasty data thefts and perpetual attacks on corporate IT systems. Just to look at the title, you have no idea whether you would be better off with a coding background, or a criminal justice background. After all, given that many data break-ins are based on social engineering, the latter might be more important than the former, depending on the job.

Information security specialist is a classic example of an emerging occupation, where the nature of the job is in so much flux that it has outrun the job title.

In a future post, I’ll describe how one searches for a job in an emerging occupation.



Is NYC the New Video Capital of the Country?

I’m going to be at St. John’s University in New York on Tuesday, September 9, speaking on “New York, New York: Careers in the Big Apple.” Preparing for that talk, I did some comparisons between the NYC labor market and the rest of the country. Here’s one teaser: I looked at online help-wanted ads that contained the term “video production.” What I found is that New York City had 297 want-ads containing the term “video production,” more than double the 137 want ads in Los Angeles.

Help-Wanted Ads containing the term “video production”
(as of September 7, 2014)
New York City 297
San Francisco 153
Los Angeles 137
Washington DC 116
Chicago 76
Boston 61
Seattle 37
Data: Indeed.com, South Mountain Economics LLC

In fact, this accurately reflects the state of the movie/video industry in the two cities. According to stats from the BLS, employment in the “motion picture and sound recording industry” in the LA area is basically flat since 2007-2008. By contrast, employment in the “motion picture and sound recording industry” in New York City is up about 40% or so and still rising.

Demand for digital marketing jobs continues to grow

The demand for digital marketing jobs continues to grow. Based on data from Indeed.com, and we see that ads that contain the term “digital marketing” are a rapidly rising percentage of all want ads (below). That accurately reflects the shift in the labor market towards jobs that have a direct or indirect connection with the data-driven economy. Every major company which has a consumer-facing or business-facing marketing presence–which is pretty much every company–needs digital marketing experts. It’s worth noting that in a city like New York, want ads that contain the phrase ‘digital marketing’ amount to 1.2% of all ads, close to the 1.5% looking for accountants.

This chart probably under-represents the demand for digital marketers, since the field is so new that job titles have not yet been standardized.


Indeed chart

London tech/info job growth in Q1 equals SF-SV, New York, and Boston combined

When I was in London a couple of weeks ago, I stayed in Shoreditch, one of the key tech centers in London, and the energy was palpable.

Indeed, when we look at the latest statistics, London’s first quarter job growth was off the charts. In particular,  London’s tech/info sector grew by 9.6% from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014. The next closest U.S. state was Massachusetts, at a 6.2% increase in tech/info jobs over the past year (we have data for 23 states).

Looking at the data in terms of the increase in the number of tech/info jobs, rather than growth rate, gives an equally impressive result. London added 36,000 tech/info jobs over the past year, roughly about equal to the combined gain in tech/info jobs in San Francisco-Silicon Valley, New York City, and the Boston metro area (respectively 18.3, 10.6, and 7.4 thousand). (Note:The SF-Silicon Valley number includes computer and electronic products manufacturing, a category covering companies such as Apple).








tech/info job growth, 1Q13-1Q14
percent thousands
London(UK) 9.6% 36.0
Boston metro 7.1% 7.4
SF-Silicon Valley 5.4% 13.9
SF-Silicon Valley* 4.7% 18.3
New York City 4.5% 10.6
Massachusetts 6.2% 9.3
Texas 3.9% 12.6
Utah 3.6% 1.9
North Carolina 3.5% 3.8
California 3.4% 23.3
Oregon 3.4% 1.5
Florida 3.4% 6.8
Washington 2.9% 4.2
New York 2.8% 9.6
Colorado 2.2% 2.6
Michigan 1.8% 1.8
Georgia 1.6% 2.5
Minnesota 1.2% 1.0
Nebraska 0.7% 0.2
New Jersey 0.3% 0.4
Missouri 0.1% 0.1
Alabama 0.1% 0.0
Ohio -0.5% -0.6
Illinois -0.8% -1.3
Pennsylvania -0.8% -1.2
Connecticut -1.0% -0.5
Maryland -2.8% -3.1
Virginia -3.1% -6.8
For UK, tech/info sector defined as “Information and Communications”
For US, tech/info sector defined as Information (NAICS 51) plus
Computer Systems Design (NAICS 5415).
Table includes all states with published data on 1Q14 tech/info jobs
*Includes computer and electronic products manufacturing
Data: Office for National Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, South
Mountain Economics



London-East-Southeast region outpaces California in tech/info

In the study London: Digital City on the Rise, we compared the London-East-Southeast region to California, pointing out that the tech/info sector in the combined UK region was growing faster than the American state.

According to just-released data, that trend continued into the first quarter of 2014. From the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, the London-East-Southeast region added 61,000 tech/info jobs, for an 8.4% gain. Meanwhile, over the same period, California added only 23,000 tech/info jobs, for a 3.4% gain.