Employers are demanding more from entry-level workers — more analytical and critical thinking skills, more people skills, more responsibilities the moment they take the job. Yet just as entry-level work is becoming more sophisticated in some industries, it’s also becoming easier to automate in others.
The upshot is a jumbled picture of job decline and growth for occupations that commonly represent entry-level jobs for new college graduates on professional career paths.
EMSI contributed jobs data to The Wall Street Journal‘s Lauren Weber and Melissa Korn, who co-wrote a story on the changing nature of entry-level work. They included the following chart in their story.
— Gerard Baker (@gerardtbaker) August 6, 2014
What constitutes an entry-level position isn’t clear-cut in standard occupation data from government sources. The definition can differ from banking to IT and other industries, and it depends on the career track that a worker wants to take. The BLS recently started to list three types of work experience in a related occupation for every detailed occupation: five years or more, less than five years, and none. (These categories are available to subscribers of Analyst, EMSI’s labor market data tool.)
The occupations in the WSJ chart require no prior work experience, but all typically require a bachelor’s degree to enter the field, per the BLS. And they represent a cross-section of industries, some of which are doing better than others at the bottom rung.
Credit analysts, loan officers, and insurance underwriters primarily work in finance and insurance. Each of these fields has been flat or in decline because of the financial crisis or more robust software programs that reduce the need for labor (the effects of automation). The worst-performing occupation in this group is insurance underwriters, with employment down 13% from 2003 to 2013.
Computer systems analysts, up 20%, work in government, professional, technical, and scientific services, insurance, and various other industries. But primarily, these workers operate in information technology industries (computer systems design employs 29% of computer systems analysts), and IT — while being twice as likely to be affected by automation — is a healthy, growing area for people with the right skills.
Job opportunities for public relation specialists, another occupation spread across dozens of specific industries, have been increasing (10% from 2003 to 2013) and are projected to keep going strong (15% from 2013 to 2023). Some of these PR specialists might function as social media managers, one of the typical entry-level position that Weber and Korn pointed out.
Then there’s compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists, one of several HR occupations that’s done OK but not great over the last decade. Jobs for human resources specialists, a separate occupation, climbed 5% from 2003 to 2013. Over the same time, jobs for labor relations specialists fell 13% and are projected to see no growth over the next decade.
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