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The Cognitive Elite

January 30, 2023 | Posted in: Insights

I have written several pieces such as Retraining the Workforce: A National Priority that discussed the likely obsolescence of a number of job categories due to the implementation of artificial intelligence, robotics, and a number of other technologies. Siegel and Sexauer recently produced the following chart that shows a forty-year trajectory in the number of jobs in each of four categories. The titles of the four categories are relatively straightforward but the assignment of specific jobs to each category could certainly be subject to some debate.

Note that the three routine and manual categories have basically “flatlined” while jobs in the nonroutine cognitive category (the Cognitive Elite) are growing rapidly. This widening gap demonstrates the increasing importance of education, the need for a major retraining initiative in the U.S., and the likelihood of continuing income inequality. However, the two authors point out that even those in the bottom three categories enjoy a living standard that is vastly superior to their counterparts in previous generations.