What types of jobs are part of the U.S. labor shortage?

In the US economy, a large consideration for politicians and lawmakers are to figure out how to deal with labor shortages in different industries. With demographics shifting and technology quickly introducing new opportunities as well as automation of existing jobs, labor demands shift within job skills and industries.

At Jobr we analyze these trends for targeting opportunities to acquire more relevant users that fill up the demand we receive from recruiters and different job boards. While it’s hard to directly match users and recruiters, it’s much easier when we have data on what jobs are in highest demand, and which industries our users are in.

To do this we classified millions of our users and jobs into different industry groups using a classification system called MESCO. Our machine learning classifier takes a certain job title and classifies it into one of over a thousand different categories. About 90% of our users and jobs get classified into around one to two hundred different industries and the rest go into a longer tail of more specific and uncommon job categories like Forest and Conservation Technicians and Gaming Surveillance Officers and Gaming Investigators.

One of the most surprising things that we saw were popular job categories with large labor shortages that weren’t being met by our user demand. Since recruiters and job boards pay to use our platform, these positions were high in demand and didn’t have as many users in the field in comparison when looking at a percentage of the entire group. For example, a job like Software Engineer could be 5% of the total share of all open job positions that need to be filled, but if only 1% of the total population is specialized in software engineering, then a labor shortage exists and demand is high (under the assumption that there is a job for every person out there).

We looked at the the job categories with the largest difference in total share of jobs to users.

Jobs with a high labor shortage

The graph above displays a huge demand in truck drivers, sales representatives, and registered nurses, all which don’t come as a huge surprise because these industries lack a large supply of workers to either meet the job requirements or willingness to do the job. The demand for nurses also indicates the growing need to help out the aging baby boomers as they retire.

Another interesting facet is the polarity between the demand of low-skilled jobs and high-skilled jobs. While there’s always a high demand for engineers, physicians, and accountants, there are plenty of jobs that are more low skilled like customer service representatives that are also in high demand. With high increasing investments in AI technology, what we’ll see in the coming years is a large amount of effort into automation of these low skilled jobs to meet the demand that isn’t being met right now. Self driving truck startups are already the new hottest thing. Chat bot startups are also trying to automate customer service representatives and personal secretaries for personal and enterprise use. 

Another interesting picture is plotting the opposite, jobs that are in an over supply, or where we have a higher percentage of users in the industry category than jobs.

Jobs that there exists an oversupply

These jobs are generally entry level jobs if you look at examples like cashiers, waiters, and bartenders, and all of them are more or less desirable or require little skill to jump into. The one caveat being the category of Manager, All Other which may point to the surplus of people that are looking for manager jobs as usually manager status can be more easily attained when promoted within a small business but hard to find when looking to switch companies. People that get to manager status also are not trying to attain a lower level position afterwards even though the demand for managers is lower. 

These job categories represent a true oversupply in positions where the demand is far greater than the number of jobs. While restaurants will always need waitresses and bartenders, these hires are usually quick and so when users see these jobs on Jobr they get a lot a swipes!

But in addition to many entry level jobs, oversupplied jobs tend to be more on the creative side as well when looking at photographers, editors, and graphic designers. The main similarity between these jobs are the level of difficulty to rise stand out from people that also hold these titles. Creative jobs have always had a history of being highly sought after.

We can check certain geographical cities in the U.S. as well to see if there are any major differences that highlight specific demand in different cities. If we plot the highest labor shortage jobs in San Francisco and join them against the numbers we get for the same titles in New York, we can see if there are some job title differences.

San Francisco vs New York City Labor Demands

Surprisingly New York has a higher demand for software developers than San Francisco currently does. This might be attributed to a shortage in software engineers in New York, but specifically among developing applications like IOS or Android. New York however does not have the kind of shortage San Francisco has with Taxi Drivers and Motor Vehicle Operators which is strange since both are dense urban cities. San Francisco does however advertise many Uber and Lyft jobs aggressively in the area since both companies are headquartered in the city.

In conclusion, the demand for labor changes over time and geographically based on need, and while Jobr has possibly a biased dataset of different jobs and users, the jobs that need to be filled are almost universally in demand, and can potentially change the way people think about their career in the future.

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