About Michael Mandel

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

NYC tech/info sector continues to grow

The New York City tech/info sector grew by 4.1% in the first four months of 2014, compared to a year earlier.* This is quite strong, considering that the national U.S. tech/info sector grew by less than 1%. over the same stretch.

*This is based on the same definition of tech/info sector used in the London paper–namely, the information sector plus computer systems design (NAICS 5415).

The Evolution of Journalism

We regularly write about the evolution of journalism (our last post can be found here). Perhaps not surprisingly, there are two separate trends. First, employment of “news analysts, reporters, and correspondents” was up 7% in 2013, continuing its rebound from losses in the Great Recession.


At the same time, the number of editors continued to fall, down about 6% in 2013.  True, not all editors are in journalism. Still, these figures suggest a pattern…more journalists who actually generate content, fewer editors to process that content before it goes online.


How Big is the “Big Data” Economy?

As part of our paper on the New York City tech/information sector, we analyzed help-wanted ads in order to  a preliminary estimate of the size of the “Big Data” Economy in New York and the whole country. Our preliminary estimate is that today, the Big Data Economy includes roughly 450,000 workers nationally. That includes tech workers with Big Data skills; supporting personnel in the same companies (marketing, accounting, HR, legal, and so forth); and a conservative estimate of spillover jobs produced in the rest of the economy.*

Judging by these preliminary estimates, the Big Data Economy is one-third smaller than the App Economy. Still, 450K jobs is quite significant . We will be sharpening up this estimate in the future, and perhaps doing a geographical analysis as well.

*One little quirk here. This estimate includes spillover jobs, so as to be consistent with our published App Economy numbers. By contrast, the estimate published in table 10 of the New York City tech/information paper did not include spillover jobs, to be consistent with the industry-based numbers in that paper.

Tech Employers Step Up Hispanic Hiring

Emerging Occupation News, August 13, 2013 

Laura Weidman Powers,  executive director and co-founder of CODE2040, has a vision: She wants her organization, founded in 2012 and based in the Bay Area,  to encourage “Blacks and Latinos to enter the tech workforce at a greater rate, and to stay and succeed there as engineers, technologists, thought leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs.”  Edward Avila, CEO and co-founder of the Manos Accelerator in Silicon Valley, has a vision as well: He wants his new organization to ease the way for the next generation of Latino-led tech start-ups.  And NewMe Accelerator, intended to “educate, accelerate and empower”  minority and women tech entrepreneurs,  is going to be running 3-day “PopUp” events in Miami, NYC, and Kansas City over the next few months.

But even as Powers, Avila, and others tackle the tough job of opening doors for minority entrepreneurs, tech employers seem to finally be getting the idea, and becoming more welcoming to jobseekers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Emerging Occupation News has crunched the government data, and uncovered these positive signs:

  • The number of Hispanics/Latinos employed in computer and mathematical occupations has risen 26% over the past two years, compared to a 10% overall gain in tech employment.
  • The number of blacks employed in computer and mathematical occupations has risen by 24% over the past two years
  • The number of Asians employed in computer and mathematical occupations has risen by 19% over the past two years.
  • The number of women employed in computer and mathematical occupations has risen by 14% over the past two years

These positive signs of diversity show up clearly in the chart below.

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 9.20.40 AM

For the rest of this post, I’m going to focus on Hispanics/Latinos, who have been noticeably under-represented in the tech fields (in future posts I will look at blacks, Asians, and women).  The Hispanic share of computer and mathematical occupations in the U.S. basically stagnated for a decade.

In the last year, however, there’s been a sharp increase in the Hispanic share of the tech fields, as shown by the following chart.   Does this reflect a change in supply or demand? Probably both

Hispanic tech

Data from the Department of Education allows us to look at the number of Hispanic computer science graduates. From the 2007-2008 academic year to the 2010-2011 academic year, the number of computer and information science bachelor degrees going to Hispanics rose by 23%, double the overall rate of increase.

That’s good news. The schools are producing more Hispanic computer science grads, and they are finding jobs. There’s still a lot more to do on diversity, but in the tech field, things seem to be getting better rather than worse.

Creative Class Recovery Finally Arrives

Emerging Occupation News, August 3, 2013

Can you prosper by choosing a ‘creative’ occupation? Many young Americans are naturally drawn to creative occupations, such as artists, designers, entertainers, sports, and media workers.   (yes, I know that sports don’t seem to  belong there, but that’s how BLS breaks out the workforce).  These occupations seem to be both more interesting and less susceptible to foreign competition.

These occupations make up part of what urban studies expert Richard Florida called the creative class.    The problem:  Many Americans working in these creative occupations lost their jobs during the early stages of the crisis.  Panicked corporate execs saw little need for designers or artists when the world seemed to be collapsing.


But now creative workers have something to rejoice. Employment in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media professions has  exceeded 3 million for the first time, and finally gone above pre-crisis levels. This is not a mere flash in the pan. If we look at 12-month moving averages, we see the same pattern, where  employment in the creative occupations has finally decisively climbed above their previous peaks.

In future blog items, I will delve more deeply into the details of this recovery. But it may be that ‘creative’ is finally starting to pay off.

Added: Want ads for these creative occupations are up 12.8% over the past year (comparing June 2013 to a year earlier).  That’s compared to a 5.3% gain for all want ads. Some of the big gainers include graphic designers (as I pointed out here) and film and video editors.

The End of the Protective Service Boom?

Emerging Occupation News, July 30, 2013

When Americans say they want more security these days, they mean data security or financial security, not security guards. That’s why the decades-long growth of “protective service” occupations may finally be coming to an end.

According to data from the BLS, the number of Americans working in “protective service” occupations rose by 28% from 2000 to 2010, an astonishing performance considering that overall employment rose by only 2% over this period.

Protective service occupations include police, firefighters, correctional officers, fish and game wardens, private detectives, security guards, and crossing guards (yes, crossing guards, all sixty thousand of them). Note that protective service workers are in both the public and and private sectors. So, for example, guards at privately-run prisons would be in the protective service occupations.


As this chart shows, the boom in protective service occupations finally started to tail off just as the rest of the economy has been recovering. Since 2010 protective service employment has fallen at a slow but steady rate.

Part of this downward trends comes from the fiscal squeeze at the state and local level. With less funds, it’s harder to hire police and firefighters. The correctional boom may finally have run its course as well, with the number of prisoners dropping for the third straight year.

But the bigger picture is that Americans may be deciding that other worries are more important than the threats of physical crime and physical terrorism. We anticipate that trend continuing–the dangers in the cyber world are going to take more attention from now on. For a company, it’s annoying to have your building broken into, but it’s potentially disastrous to have your data hacked.

Is the Solar Job Boom Finally Here?

Emerging Occupation News, July 8, 2013

The answer is yes, with a caveat. The caveat: There’s a glut of solar panel production, so now is not a good time to be working for a company making solar panels. But, as a Reuters article wrote:

… the same price decline that has hurt panel manufacturers has helped sustain demand in the face of disappearing subsidies. That means a number of businesses, such as those that install household solar equipment, continue to thrive.

Moreover, the low interest rates make it easier to finance solar installations. As a result, we are seeing sharply rising demand for solar installers and solar sales representatives.  Over the past year, help-wanted ads  for solar photovoltaic installers has risen by 20%, and ads for solar sales representatives are up by 27%.  Help-wanted ads for solar thermal installers are up by a startling 61%, though that’s off a small base. Conversely, want ads for solar energy systems engineers are down over the last year, showing the overcapacity on the production side of the solar economy.

It’s possible that the gains for solar jobs may temporarily shrink if interest rates rise. But it seems pretty clear that solar installers and solar sales representatives are key examples of emerging occupations.

The rise of the ‘new’ graphic designers

Emerging Occupation News, June 28, 2013

It’s a good time to be a graphic designer–if you’ve got the right skills. The number of want ads for graphic designers has risen by 22% over the past year, practically shooting right off the charts.

What types of skills are needed? Roughly one-third of the want-ads for graphics designers include the word ‘web.’  Graphics design has turned into an emerging occupation,  driven by the tech boom and the very different needs of online/mobile visual presentation.

That leaves two interesting questions. First, is a college degree now needed to become a graphic designer in today’s economy? Second, how easy is it to retool old skills for the new world?

Where is the demand for journalists?

Emerging Occupation News, June 28, 2013

As the journalism profession and industry reconstructs itself,  the demand still seems to be centered in the historic print and broadcast centers of New York and Los Angeles. An analysis shows that roughly one quarter of want ads for ‘news analysts, reporters, and correspondents’ come out of the New York and Los Angeles metro areas The next highest source of journalist demand is Washington DC, with 5.5% of want ads for journalists. The top ten metro areas are shown below.


I note that this analysis is preliminary and based on raw data. If there’s interest I can do another level of validation on the results.