Jobs We Can’t Outsource to Robots

A quick glance at this chart shows precisely when employers began taking on more part-time workers while shunning the full-time folks.

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But you should take the information in this chart with a grain of salt. You see, the two data streams – part-time (red) and full-time (blue) – are plotted on different axes, so even though the red and blue lines clearly crossed in 2009, it doesn’t mean there are now more part-time jobs than full-time ones.

Instead, the share of full-time jobs fell about 3 percentage points, from 83% to 80%. Meanwhile, the share of part-time jobs rose about 3 percentage points, from 17% to 20%.

A small shift, I’d say.

And while it’d be nice to see another cross, with full-time work rising as part-time work falls, it’s good to remember the jobs market goes through structural shifts. A great example of this is the impact that automation has had on the typical American job.

Here’s a chart that shows this well:

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Here, routine occupations (in red) are jobs in which the employee has little discretion. Whether these involve bolting on the driver’s-side doors to every Ford F-150 that rolls down the line or counting money at the bank, robots now handle many of these job functions.

On the other hand, jobs that require critical-thinking, problem-solving and creativity are on the rise. These are the non-routine occupations shown in blue above.

And as these two plots do share the same axis, 1995 represents the true tipping point. That was when jobs that companies couldn’t outsource to robots began to dominate the U.S. workforce.

As American workers remain displaced by the worst financial crisis in recent memory – particularly younger folks who are entering the workforce with still-wobbly legs and massive student-loan debt burdens – many question the value of a college degree.

Is it worth it anymore?

To me, this chart answers that question with a resounding “YES.”

Adam O’Dell

Using his perfect blend of technical and fundamental analysis, Adam uncovers investment opportunities that return the maximum profit with minimum risk.