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The booms, blips, and dips of dot-com, telecom, and cultural transmissions

Employment in the information sector


Some call the past few decades a new industrial revolution, given the dynamic emergence of the information economy. The graph above shows employment in information services, and, indeed, there’s strong growth in the sector, especially up to the dot-com crash in 2000. But since then, the sector doesn’t seem to have expanded its payrolls much. In fact, once you take out the boom, current data seem to follow the previous trend.

Now, the employment classification for information services includes more than just jobs related to the internet. NAICS code 51 encompasses anything related to the diffusion of information. So, it’s also phone companies, movie makers, broadcasting, newspapers, and software. Clearly, some of these sub-sectors have suffered from the rise of the internet economy. Thus, the long trend hides a considerable amount of churn within the sector itself.

Also, notice that there are some downticks. For employment data, this is usually due to strikes. The big downtick in August 1983 is due to a 22-day strike of close to 700,000 workers across the phone industry.

How this graph was created: Search for and select “employment information services.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: USINFO


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