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).

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.



London and surrounding regions vs California

In the new SME report, “London: Digital City on the Rise,” we note that

the tech/info sector in the combined London-East-Southeast region is growing faster than California, even taking into account the rapid growth of San Francisco.

Below is a chart that shows the difference. Between 2009 and 2013, tech/info employment rose by 11.4% in the combined London-East-South East regions of the UK, compared to an 8.8% rise in California. If we add in the computer and electronic products manufacturing industry into California’s total, that reduces the state’s growth rate even further.



There are two factors explaining this result. First, the tech/info sectors in the East and South East regions are actually growing quite smartly. At the same time, the tech/info sector in the Los Angeles metro region has been lagging globally, showing only a 2.9% growth from 2009 to 2013.