Reuters

How major industries have changed from their peak up to today.

The graph below, via urban planner Dan Taylor, attempts to chart the biggest shifts in North American job trends over the past 100 years, highlighting the previous shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy during the 20th century, and from an industrial to what he's calling the Creative Age today. The graph, by Carrie Taylor, is based on data put together my colleague Kevin Stolarick of the Martin Prosperity Institute and includes data for the United States and Canada.

The purple bars show the percent of the workforce employed in an era's major industry during its peak. The blue bars show that industry's same job share in 2012.

The chart shows that in 1900, 60 percent of the workforce held agrarian jobs. In 2012, only one percent held similar positions.

In 1950, we had fully entered the Industrial Age. By that time, roughly 50 percent of jobs were in manufacturing but these have declined to around 12 percent today.

Today, we are transitioning from the Industrial to the Creative Age. Now roughly one-third of all jobs are in the professional, technical, knowledge and creative economy, up from roughly 5 percent in 1900.

As Taylor writes:

As we moved from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age employment growth and and wealth creation shifted from one to the other, now we are seeing a similar shift again. If we want to see our communities prosper, we need to make sure we are focused on future economic growth opportunities versus ones from the past. The previous wealth drivers don’t disappear, they just diminish in their importance and contribution to wealth creation and employment, while making room for new ones.

The central task for today's political leadership is to chart an economic course that creates space for the new economic order to flourish. That means building the new institutions and opportunities that train our workers to take on the challenges of a creative class economy.

Photo credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo-illustration of several big-box retail stores.
    Equity

    After the Retail Apocalypse, Prepare for the Property Tax Meltdown

    Big-box retailers nationwide are slashing their property taxes through a legal loophole known as "dark store theory." For the towns that rely on that revenue, this could be a disaster.

  2. A photo of a mural in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    Life

    Stop Complaining About Your Rent and Move to Tulsa, Suggests Tulsa

    In an effort to beef up the city’s tech workforce, the George Kaiser Family Foundation is offering $10,000, free rent, and other perks to remote workers who move to Tulsa for a year.

  3. Equity

    Housing Can’t Be Both Affordable and a Good Investment

    The two pillars of American housing policy are fundamentally at odds.

  4. A photo of protesters carrying anti-Amazon posters during a rally and press conference in NYC.
    Amazon HQ2

    Amazon’s HQ2 Decision Was Always About Transit

    In the end, New York’s MTA and D.C.’s Metro were the only transportation networks capable of handling such an influx of new residents. But both cities will have some work to do.

  5. A man wears a mask with the likeness of French president Emmanuel Macron as people take part in the nationwide "Yellow Vest" demonstrations, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher fuel prices, in Haulchin, France.
    Equity

    Why Drivers Are Leading a Protest Movement Across France

    The rapidly developing “Yellow Vest” movement took over streets and highways to oppose rising gas and diesel taxes. It might also be a proxy for frustrations about rising costs and falling living standards.