ZipRecruiter: 4 states account for over 90% of AI jobs

AI and machine learning jobs are in strong demand around the U.S., but not every region has benefited equally from the boom. That’s according to ZipRecruiter’s Future of Work Report 2020, which is out today. To complie the report, ZipRecruiter surveyed data science job listings on the platform between 2018 and 2019. The metrics, while limited in scope to 50 million job postings, illustrate the work that needs to be done to combat inequality amid proliferating AI applications and the roles.

According to the report, AI jobs accounted for four in 1,000 job postings on ZipRecruiter in 2019, up from fewer than 1 in 1,000 in 2016. Overall, posting volumes grew:

  • 43% for candidates with robotics engineering skills
  • 44% for candidates with AI or machine learning skills
  • 91% for candidates with experience in robotic-assisted surgery
  • 151% for candidates with deep learning skills
  • 176% for candidates with robotic design skills

Four states — California, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts — account for over 90% of jobs requiring AI expertise on ZipRecruiter. Growth in AI-related jobs grew 35% in those states from 2017 to 2019, and as of 2019, they had 60% and 34% of the combined share of AI jobs and AI-related jobs in the U.S., respectively:

  • California had 10 in 1,000 AI job postings and 68 in 1,000 AI-related jobs
  • Washington had 8 in 1,000 AI job postings and 56 in 1,000 AI-related jobs
  • New York had 8 in 1,000 AI job postings and 63 in 1,000 AI-related jobs
  • Massachusetts had 6 in 1,000 AI job postings and 61 in 1,000 AI-related jobs

That’s not terribly surprising, considering those states are home to companies that are investing heavily in AI, including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. ZipRecruiter notes that despite only having 22% of the total U.S. population, they have high-wage jobs in high-growth industries and are subsequently seeing “rapid” growth in demand for advanced tech skills. That said, these “winning” AI states are experiencing much slower growth in the supply of such workers, resulting in above-average wage growth but widening inequity.

ZipRecruiter expects other states will — and already have — benefited from an exodus of businesses from California, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts, owing to factors like limited housing (all four are in the bottom quartile of states when it comes to housing affordability) and lengthy commutes. (ZipRecruiter says Californians answered more than 1.8 million out-of-state job postings in 2019.) AI-related job postings on ZipRecruiter grew 93% from 2018 to 2020 in the following places:

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  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Texas
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Idaho

Collectively, these states had a 20% share of ZipRecruiter job postings for AI experts and a 20% share of postings in AI-enabled industries. The drone segment in Texas and Virginia was among the fastest-growing nationwide, while robotics attracted the most talent in Arizona and Michigan.

On the other end of the spectrum, “losing” AI states saw only 21% growth in AI-related jobs on ZipRecruiter between 2017 and 2019:

  • Louisiana
  • Kansas
  • Alaska
  • Mississippi
  • West Virginia
  • Connecticut
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Wisconsin
  • Indiana

ZipRecruiter pins the blame on poor education outcomes (Alaska ranks in the bottom five for public school quality), unfriendly business environments (Vermont and Connecticut have high taxes), and undiversified economies. “Job seekers and workers who live in states where large numbers of jobs are susceptible to automation but investment in new products and services is limited should also not despair, but rather act now to improve their own prospects,” wrote the report’s coauthors. “Creative thinking by states and cities alike will become ever more critical.”

Things could take a turn for the better. Mekala Krishnan, a senior fellow at McKinsey’s Boston-based business and economics research arm and a member of the board of the Global Fund for Women, said earlier this year that she anticipates work transitioning from shop floor production to jobs in engineering and design in industries like manufacturing — a dominant force in many of the “losing” AI states. She also expects a paradigm shift leading to the creation of entirely new occupations.

It wouldn’t be unprecedented. Decades ago, roles like “social media manager” and “data scientist” hadn’t been conceived, much less sought after. It’s estimated that 10% of employment at any time is in these recently emerged occupations, amounting to about 160 million jobs globally.

Tens of millions of workers are expected to make some sort of occupational transition by 2030. Assuming these transitions go smoothly, the benefits could be enormous. A McKinsey study forecasted that AI could contribute an additional 1.2% to gross domestic product growth (GDP) for the next decade and could help capture an additional 20-25% in net economic benefits (equating to $13 trillion globally) in the next 12 years.

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