In this world, there are nearly as many different ways of earning your keep as there are places to keep it. However, they tend to fall into categories, and many of the categories are so close in meaning to their real-world counterparts that they aren’t worth discussing here. Some have changed radically, and some are entirely new.
Pilots are in greater demand than ever, since the wide gaps between population centers and the deterioration of once-nationally-funded roads make air transportation popular for travelers and freight. Huge numbers of them have gone into business for themselves, leading to a significant population of freelance pilots. After all, what do you need other than a bird and the skill to fly her? Long hours, high risk of accident, and the unpleasant reality of grease under your fingernails mean that disillusionment sets in quickly, and most of the pilots who survive their first year still quit before they’re experienced enough to be successful. The apparent exclusivity just makes the profession more appealing: there’s a fashion among rebellious youths to wear pilots’ ’chutes as a means of identifying with their free-spirited heroes.
Professional athletes as we know them have been replaced by amateurs with corporate sponsorships (a tenuous distinction, but a distinction nonetheless.) These are athletes with day jobs; one-off entertainment events don’t bring in enough money to compete with a decent manufacturing-control gig. As always, however, there’s “professional sports” and there’s “professional sports.” In less-patrolled areas of the world, there is a new kind of bloodsport pitching a team of engineers and mechanics against a single machine programmed to kill them. Such shows, and the bets placed on their outcomes, can be lucrative.
The traditional blue-collar manufacturing jobs have mostly been bumped up into blue-collar machine maintenance jobs, or further up into design or research jobs. Most tasks that can be effectively and efficiently done by machines are in fact done by machines. This doesn’t lead to overwhelming unemployment because there are radically fewer people to employ, and the increase in creativity and opportunity at work increases job satisfaction; nobody is complaining.