This one chart sums up what’s happening to America’s ‘good’ jobs

Digital skills becoming increasingly essential for well-paying “middle skill” jobs, as highlighted by Brookings Institution and this article in Marketwatch.

This one chart sums up what’s happening to America’s ‘good’ jobs


As computers and other technology invade our jobs, it’s no secret that workers with low levels of computer savviness are losing out.

What may surprise is just how much they are losing.

These two pie charts sum up what’s happened to so-called “good” jobs — the kind where a college degree wasn’t a prerequisite but still paid above the national average — between 2002 and 2016.

While just over half of these jobs in 2002 required little digital competence, by 2016, 87% of those same jobs required medium or high levels, according to data recently analyzed by the Brookings Institution.

That doesn’t mean workers have to learn to code, says Mark Muro, senior fellow at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program and one of the authors of the report. Rather, the scores measure a mix of worker knowledge of computers and electronics needed to do the job as currently demanded as well as the significance of complete digitalization of a particular job. That could require being skillful with Microsoft Excel or Salesforce software, or being able to solve equipment problems using digital diagnostic tools.

So the job of a sound engineering technician has a digital score of 79, for example, while that of a plumber has a score of just 13. Both are classified by Brookings as “good,” middle-skill jobs. Some of the biggest leaps in digital skills have come in the tool-and-die industry, sound technicians and police patrol officers.

 Here is the full list of the 15 jobs Brookings singles out as “good” middle-skill jobs as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment estimates for 2026.
The search for ‘good’ jobs
Digital score Digital score Jobs Jobs Percentage
2002 2016 2016 2026 estimate growth
Sound engineering technicians 42 79 17,000 18,100 6.3%
CNC machine tool programmers
 (metal and plastic) 61 74 25,100 29,200 16.3%
Electrical and electronics
 engineering technicians 59 72 137,000 139,800 2.0%
Radiologic technologists 55 64 205,200 230,400 12.3%
Police, sheriff patrol officers 27 62 684,200 731,900 7.0%
First-line supervisors
 of transportation, material-moving
 and vehicle operators 29 60 204,200 217,700 6.6%
Real-estate sales agents 31 60 348,800 370,500 6.2%
Executive secretaries and
 executive administrative assistants 45 59 685,300 566,200 -17.4%
Telecommunications line
 installers, repairers 25 56 106,100 107,800 1.6%
Registered nurses 38 55 2,955,200 3,392,200 14.8%
Tool and die makers 3 51 72,500 67,200 -7.3%
Firefighters 19 40 327,300 351,000 7.20%
Flight attendants 9 35 116,600 128,500 10.2%
Postal service mail carriers 6 22 316,700 278,500 -12.1%
Plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters 0 13 480,600 556,400 15.8%
Source: Brookings Institution, Bureau of Labor Statistics

“By and large, the higher the digital score, the greater the resilience of the job in the face of further automation and artificial intelligence,” Muro said. Those workers also are doing more complicated work and might be better able to adapt to changes.

How many of these 15 jobs can survive?

While the Brookings data don’t predict the future for those jobs, prospects for some of them aren’t good.

Tool-and-die makers, once the Cadillac of the skilled trades, are being replaced by those who have mastered the computer numerical control (CNC) machines that now can build the metal forms and plastic molds that had been…..

Read the rest of the story at Market Watch:

Learn more about the demand for middle-skill jobs in LA County, at Center for a Competitive Workforce



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