Visualising Workforce Changes

For an historian like me who chooses to specialise in social and retail topics, visualisations such as the following are a useful tool.

Select the image for a closer view.  The image is from a marvelous short article in Visual Capitalist that provides much of the detail.

The most obvious change is the precipitous decline in agricultural employment, falling from 60% of the workforce in 1850 to just 3% today; much of that decline occurring since the end of the Second World War.  Manufacturing jobs also seem to be disappearing at a rapid rate.  Conversely, the increases in “education” and “healthcare” sectors are noticeable.

In discussing the changes to employment that Artificial Intelligence software may bring, the article provides a cheering spin:

“In the timeframe of 1850 to 2015, it’s clear that new technologies came in and disrupted the prevailing industries. Many jobs were lost in key sectors like manufacturing and farming, but they’ve been replaced (so far) with new jobs in other sectors.”

That may be so, but personally I suspect that increased leisure time (or idleness to some) and a guaranteed income are more likely futures.

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4 Responses to Visualising Workforce Changes

  1. Alex Greenfields says:

    To me the surprising story is that there’s been almost no change since 2000. It looks like the most stable period in history.

    • jakking says:

      Interesting observation. Perhaps we are in transition, awaiting the next upheaval?

      • Alex Greenfields says:

        IMO we’ve had nothing but upheavals since 2000. Several wars. 2 major global financial crises. The emergence of new global power centres. Seems like stability in the employment mix coincides with upheaval rather than presaging it.

      • jakking says:

        Wars and financial panics are historical mainstays, and nothing of their kind since 2000 compares with the 1910-1945 period, for example. AI could be the real gamechanger.

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