The Five Fastest Declining Industries: Projections for 2018

by | February 17, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted which jobs will decline over the next few years, and manufacturing jobs—as well as other unskilled positions, like mail sorting and telemarketing—are at the top of the list.

This isn't exactly shocking; outsourcing and increased automation have been shrinking the need for unskilled labor for years. But the recession is speeding up that shift, and current high school sophomores or juniors may find that, when they graduate in a few years, very few jobs will be left that don't require a college degree.

Here's a snapshot of some of the industries to avoid—and maybe some fresh incentive to plan ahead for post-high school education.

1. Textile Manufacturing

Jobs Affected:

  • • Sewing machine operators (Employment projected to decrease by 33.66%)
  • • Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders (40.70% projected decrease).

Why: This industry's US output is declining fastest, thanks to combination of increasing productivity (because of better technology), and a mass out-sourcing to China and Central America, where labor is more cheaply obtained that in the US.

2. Postal Service Jobs Affected:

  • • Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators (-30.32%)
  • • Postal service clerks (-18.02%)
  • • Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service (-11.76%)

Why: With globalization and the rise of online shopping, the shipping industry in general is projected to do more business with an increase in package deliveries—but that increase will be offset, for the US Postal Service, by increasing competition from private companies, electronic mail, and similar alternatives (for example, paying bills over the Internet.

Another factor: automated sorting machines and other technological advances will reduce the need for human labor.

3. Office and administrative support

Jobs Affected:

  • • File clerks (-23.36%)
  • • Order clerks (-26.12%)
  • • Office and administrative support workers, all other (-11.64%)
  • • Information and record clerks, all other (-11.79%)
  • • Switchboard operators, including answering service (-10.89%)

Why: Advances in technology, like voice recognition and Internet directory services-- plus outsourcing, cell phones, and the consolidation of telephone operator jobs into fewer locations--will all reduce demand for these workers.

Specifically, electronic files are replacing file clerks, while office and administrative support workers are becoming less necessary with the advent of automated work processes electronically stored calendars and note-taking systems.

4. Machine Operators and Computer Operators:

Jobs Affected:

  • • Machine feeders and offbearers (-22.15%)
  • • Photographic processing machine operators (-24.31%)
  • • Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders (-21.54%)
  • • Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers (-14.66%)
  • • Computer operators: (18.60%)

Why: It's simple: tasks performed by this occupation are increasingly automated.

Specifically in the case of computer operation, smaller, more portable, and more powerful unites translate to fewer workers required to operate and maintain computers.

5. Sales and Related Jobs Affected: Telemarketers (-11.07%) Door-to-door sales workers, news and street vendors, and related workers (-14.79%)

Why: Most telemarketing jobs are now in overseas call centers, and door to door salespeople have been widely replaced by online shopping.

Employment specifically related to the print industry (like newspaper sales) is expected to be reduced by the rise of electronic/online publishing.

Filed Under: Job Search


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