AI Roles Proliferated in 2019

End-of-year data show labor market slowdown, solid job gains

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer January 7, 2020
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data scientists

​Artificial intelligence (AI) and data science roles continued to dominate among emerging jobs in 2019, spreading across nearly every industry, according to U.S. data from global professional networking site LinkedIn.

AI specialist showed the fastest rate of growth over the past five years, based on job titles added to users' profiles. "Hiring for this role has grown 74 percent annually and encompasses a few different titles within the space that all have a very specific set of skills despite being spread across industries," said Guy Berger, LinkedIn's chief economist.

"At this stage, most of the workforce doesn't work in the emerging field of artificial intelligence, but that doesn't mean it won't impact everyone," he said. "Artificial intelligence will require the entire workforce to learn new skills, whether it's to keep up to date with an existing role or pursuing a new career as a result of automation."

The previous year's top job in the LinkedIn rankings was noticeably absent—blockchain developer. Blockchain-related jobs had grown the most on LinkedIn from 2014 to 2018 following the surge in interest in the technology, but growth stalled in 2019. "It may not come as a surprise given the rapid decline in popularity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies," Berger said.

The top 10 emerging jobs in the United States, according to LinkedIn, are:

  • Artificial intelligence specialist.
  • Robotics engineer.
  • Data scientist.
  • Full stack engineer.
  • Site reliability engineer.
  • Customer success specialist.
  • Sales development representative.
  • Data engineer.
  • Behavioral health technician.
  • Cybersecurity specialist.

The explosive growth of technology services has fueled the demand for supporting functions like sales, product marketing and customer success representatives—and employees in those jobs also need to have an understanding of the technology. LinkedIn data showed that the top industries hiring for AI skills are information technology services, computer software and Internet companies. Demand is highest in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles.

"The tech industry has boosted job growth even in the metros where housing is most expensive, and tech jobs increasingly are concentrated in a handful of top tech hubs," said Jed Kolko, chief economist for job search engine Indeed.

According to the millions of technology job postings on Indeed, familiarity with Docker software—which bundles an application's files so that it runs smoothly across different computing environments—is the technology skill with the most impressive growth over the past five years. Almost nonexistent in job descriptions in 2014, it was listed in over 5 percent of all U.S. tech jobs in 2019.

"The rise of data science is driving the gains of several skills on our five-year growth list," said Andrew Flowers, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. "Azure, Spark, Redshift and Amazon Web Services are all tools for data processing, and each is up at least five-fold. Two data science disciplines—artificial intelligence and machine learning—are in the top 10."

The maturing relationship between AI, automation and the workplace is expected to create promising opportunities for technology workers, according to new research from information technology and cybersecurity association ISACA.

Eighty-seven percent of over 5,000 technology professionals surveyed by ISACA said that AI and machine learning will have a major or moderate impact on their organization's profitability, and 58 percent expect that emerging workplace tech trends will result in more money in their paychecks. Of concern, 81 percent think businesses are not investing adequately in the people skills needed to navigate the technology changes to come.

"The pace of technology-driven change will continue to accelerate, so it's more important than ever to be always learning," said ISACA CEO David Samuelson. "Both as individuals and in our companies, we will need new skills and frameworks to be equipped to navigate the inevitable change ahead."

Monster Data Cites NYC, Manufacturing as Top Job Generators

Global job board Monster's most frequently posted jobs of 2019—software developer, advertising sales agent, delivery driver, product demonstrator and computer support specialist—are evidence of a slight disparity between the types of job seekers who browse that site and the typical LinkedIn user.

Based on Monster's year-end data, the healthiest employment markets last year were in New York City, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix.

Logistics giant UPS was the top company hiring on Monster in 2019, and industries such as manufacturing, business and technical services, and health care accounted for the largest share of hiring via searches on the site.

January and February continued to be the busiest time to search for a job, and Wednesday was the most popular day to conduct an online job search, according to Monster.

U.S. Labor Market Slows in 2019

Employment growth slowed substantially last year, but employers still reported gains month after month. "Even accounting for the comedown from a stronger year in 2018, the slowdown in job growth is notable," said Nick Bunker, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. "Average monthly jobs gains are the most tepid since 2010 when the U.S. economy was struggling to recover from the Great Recession."

The slackening seemed to reflect a pause in employer demand for workers. "There are signs that underlying employer demand is starting to shrink," Bunker said. "Job postings peaked late last year and have been declining on a year-over-year basis for four straight months."

Goods-producing sectors led the jobs contraction, while gains were steady in the service industries, especially health care.

The best news for job seekers about the job market is that wage growth is now the strongest it has been at any point in the current economic expansion, Bunker said.

"Wage growth for workers in low-wage industries, such as clothing stores and casinos, has picked up and is stronger than in other industries," Kolko added. "Yet a slowing labor market, even if it doesn't tip into recession, could reverse this trend and reduce pay gains most for lower-wage workers."

Partisan Divide

Politics is truly a wild card for the economy as we head into another election year. Trade, immigration, tax and monetary policies could knock the economy off course or help keep it steady, Kolko said. "Unemployment rates and job growth are running neck-and-neck in blue-leaning and red-leaning areas. But despite similar current performance, economic fundamentals are dramatically different in red and blue America. Republican-leaning regions have lower incomes and are at greater risk of job losses, while Democrat-leaning areas struggle more with high costs and inequality."

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