Evolving technologies, global trade and a changing population are among contributing factors to the decline of certain jobs within various industries. For example, jobs in manufacturing, information and some federal government sectors represent 16 of the top 20 jobs to see sharp declines between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Several types of jobs that have been disappearing for years may be heading for extinction.
Postal Service Jobs
Several positions within the United States Postal Service will be hit by the sharpest declines of any other job category by 2020, according to the BLS. Jobs in mail sorting and processing, including processing machine operators, are projected to decline by 48.5 percent. Postal service clerk positions will decline by 48.2 percent. Even postmaster and superintendent positions are expected to decline by 27.8 percent. Mail carrier jobs will also see a 12 percent decline by 2020.
Machine Operating Jobs
The textile industry is expected to continue taking hits, as many sewing and related jobs are being sent overseas. For example, sewing machine operator jobs are projected to drop by 25.7 percent by 2020, the BLS reports. Knitting and weaving machine setters and jobs tending to various textile machines will drop by 18.2 percent. The need for operators of textile winders, twisters and drawing machines will fall by 12.4 percent. Petroleum refineries are another manufacturing area taking a hit with a projected 14 percent decline in pump system and gauge operator jobs by 2020. Semiconductor processing and chemical systems operator jobs may also disappear to the extent of 17.9 percent and 12.2 percent respectively.
Print Publishing Jobs
As newspapers and magazines reduce print circulations in favor of online publishing, and book publishers turn to digital releases and print-on-demand, many types of printing jobs are being absorbed into other positions or made obsolete altogether. For example, pre-press operator positions are expected to decline by 15.9 percent by 2020, according to the BLS. Typists and word processor jobs are projected to fall 11.5 percent as well. Photograph processing jobs and newsstand vendors are also among publishing’s declining positions.
Sales, Office and Management Jobs
Increases in online and television marketing are pushing telemarketing off the cliff. Telemarketing had declined by 25 percent within five years as of 2009, and continues to decline, according to Jenna Goudreau in her January 2011 “Forbes” article entitled "Careers Headed For the Trash Pile." Administrative support positions have been in decline and may be endangered, as technology allows professionals and executives to more easily handle their own clerical work, suggests economist Dr. Harry Holzer in Goudreau's article. Additionally, even some management positions, such as agricultural managers and food service managers are among the top 10 on the BLS list of failing occupations.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Table 4. The 20 Industries With the Largest Projected Wage and Salary Employment Declines, 2010-20
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Table 8. The 30 Occupations With the Largest Projected Employment Declines, 2010-20
- Forbes: Jobs Outlook: Careers Headed For the Trash Pile: Jenna Goudreau
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