News & Insights for the AI Journey|Saturday, July 20, 2019
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AI Job Postings Drop, Applicants in Short Supply 

The AI boom may be peaking—at least for developers and the companies seeking to hire them. The slowdown reflects misgivings about how the technology may be applied as well the lag time in training new AI developers.

According to the job site Indeed.com, growth in AI job postings has slowed dramatically after several boom years. Postings on the employment site rose 29.1 percent over the last year. By contrast, AI job openings jumped 136 percent in the year ending in May 2017 and 57.9 percent last year.

At the same time, developer interest also has tailed off. The placement firm said searches for AI-related jobs decreased by 14.5 percent though May. The previous two years showed healthy gains in job queries. “This year’s drop suggests there could be more open jobs than qualified workers to fill them,” the firm said in a blog postreleasing its annual report. “Much of tomorrow’s AI workforce may still be in school or awaiting training.”

Despite the slowdown, machine learning and deep learning attracted the most interest from recruits, followed by data scientists and computer vision engineering. Relatively high average salary was one reason.

While the category machine learning engineer was defined as “the closest thing to a ‘pure’ AI job,” the workforce survey found that the management position “Director of Analytics” registered the highest annual average salary: $140,837. Annual salary for machine learning engineers averaged about $134,500.

Despite dominating nearly every other region, Silicon Valley technology hubs trailed New York City as a hotspot for AI development. Listings in the Big Apple accounted for 11.6 percent of jobs posting, followed by San Francisco (9.6 percent) and San Jose (9.2 percent), the study found. The financial services sector centered on Wall Street has been an early adopter of AI technologies, and the report notes that New York has attracted many AI-related startups while large West Coast technology companies such as Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) also have a significant East Coast presence.

The Indeed.com report notes apprehension about the misapplication of AI technology along with growing concerns about bias and the implications of expanding automation for the U.S. workforce. For example, the job survey cites a recent study by the Pew Research Center that found 72 percent of Americans are worried about automation replacing workers.

Either way, the AI survey concludes, “AI is expected to grow and evolve into a common workplace tool.”

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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