Monday, February 04, 2013

Employment Decline in Information Industry

Employment in the information industry peaked in 2000 at 3,630,000, according to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2011, the industry employed only 2,659,000--a loss of nearly 1 million jobs.

Behind the decline in information industry employment is job loss in traditional publishing (books, newspapers, magazines, directories) and telecommunications (wired and wireless). The BLS defines the information industry as establishments that 1) produce and distribute information and cultural products; 2) provide the means to transmit or distribute these products as well as data or communications; 3) process data. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of jobs in newspaper publishing fell from 422,600 to 240,900—a 43 percent decline. Jobs in wired telecommunications fell 37 percent, from 921,800 to 577,200. Newspaper publishing and wired telecommunications together accounted for more than half of the overall decline in information industry jobs. 

Meanwhile, the Internet has not come to the rescue. Internet publishing employed 108,000 in 2011, nearly 3,000 fewer people than the 110,800 employed in 2000. Jobs in this sector are disappearing in part because much of Internet publishing is performed without pay. Think of Wikipedia (which calls itself "the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet"), available for free and created almost entirely by volunteers.

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