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Your blackjack dealer is more of a sign of the future than CES


There’s something awkward about the Consumer Electronics Show. After a happy weekend of clubbing, swilling airplane lounge-priced cocktails, and wearing leopard print, come Monday the average Vegas tourist witnessed a deluge of men and women (mostly men) wearing business casual slacks descend on the city.

All of a sudden, the capital of the service economy, chock full of eerily friendly waitstaff, was awash in engineers. But as futuristic as CES may be (we can only hope the terrible and beautiful spider dress doesn’t ever materialize), it’s the booze-fueled and hotel-driven industries that are ascendant, not the hordes of iPhone case manufacturers that fill the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Thanks to ever-increasing automation and efficient manufacturing, jobs involved in the production of goods—like, say, TVs (even 4k TVs)—have barely budged in the U.S. since the 1940s. Employment in the service industry, on the other hand, soared to more than 120,000 last year. The number of jobs in hospitality surpassed those in manufacturing during the recession, and the gap has only widened since then.

In Nevada, a quarter of all jobs are in food and hospitality. Even Zappos, the region’s tech-driven harbinger of downtown real estate development, thinks of itself as “a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes.”

Sure, service isn’t the only industry in Nevada. But casinos are the state’s largest industry, accounting for a huge chunk of its GDP, and they will remain on top for the foreseeable future. If you want a glimpse of the jobs of the future, look no further than the many people who work on the Las Vegas strip full time, not just during this one week in January. It’s probably a safer bet than spider dresses.

Watch more from this year’s CES from Fortune’s video team: