Living and Working in the Boom Times

Last week, The Awl’s Matt Buchanan reported on the New York Times/Upshot infographic How the Recession Reshaped the Economy, in 255 Charts.

As Matt noted:

You could look at one of these charts a day for the next six months and you would still not comprehend the full sweep of its gloom.

But the first thing that jumped out to me was a single line rising and rising, stretching up towards the Boom Times quadrant while the other lines fell away behind it.

What does that line represent? “Internet publishing, broadcasting, and search.”

The first thing you feel, when you realize you are working in one of the few Boom Time industries, is of course survivor’s guilt. Or, more accurately, there but for the grace of God. I mean, I could have studied STEM. Instead, I hitched my star to one of the fastest-growing industries of the New Economy, and I am reaping the financial rewards.

The fact that Boom Time in the New Economy means an approximate $40,000 annual salary in my case and an average $79,872 salary according to the Times/Upshot charts is of course part of that gloom that Matt Buchanan noted; the other booming industries include “electronic shopping and auctions” (average salary $60,902) and “support for oil and gas operations” (average salary $58,739).

But there is a distinct difference between working in an industry that isn’t growing (which I’ve done) and working in an industry that knows it has room to expand, to take risks, to hire on new people and give them opportunities to stretch themselves. For that, at the very least, I am grateful to have worked and lucked my way into this career. I also know, in the New Economy, that the feeling of gratitude is considered part of my benefits package.

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