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.

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.

Journalism employment rebounds sharply–but what kind?

Emerging Occupation News, June 24, 2013

Journalism is simultaneously a declining and emerging field. The mainstream print and broadcast media continues to shrink. Newspaper employment, for example, is down about 5% over the past year.

Paradoxically, however, the number of employed journalists is rising. Over the past year, the number of “news analysts, reporters, and correspondets” is up 23%, according to analysis by South Mountain Economics. The number of help-wanted ads for news analysts, reporters, and correspondents is up 15% over the past year.*

But these are not traditional journalism jobs. Roughly half the want-ads for news analysts, reporters and correspondents contain the words ‘digital’, ‘internet’, ‘online’, or ‘mobile’. Roughly a quarter of the want-ads include the phrase ‘social media.’ These jobs require a different set of  skills than traditional journalism positions.

*Calculations of employment are based on the Current Population survey; the 12 months ending May 2013 vs the 12 months ending APril 2012. The want-ad data is based on The Conference Board HWOL database; the last 90 days of ads.    

Information security jobs are up 39%!

Emerging Occupation News, June 21, 2013

With all the talk of hacking and cyber-spying, it should be no surprise that information security is hot, hot, hot.  Over the past year, jobs for information security analysts have risen by an astounding 39%. That’s based on South Mountain Economic’s analysis of government data.*

Even though the need for information security has been around as long as computers, the demands of the job has changed so much in recent years that we put it into the category of emerging occupations.

*Based on data from the Current Population Survey March-May 2013 compared to a year earlier.

Added:  The latest release from the BLS shows that the average annual pay for information security analysts in May 2012 was 89K.