5. Semiconductor Processors
> Pct. decrease: -17.9%
> 2010 jobs: 21,100
> Total job loss (2010-2020): -3,800
> Median annual wage: $33,130
Despite a growing demand for semiconductors, the job outlook for semiconductor processors is rather somber. Semiconductors need to be produced in a clean room and with the utmost precision. And robots are typically better at this type of work than humans in bunny suits, the standard uniform for semiconductor processors. In addition, many of the manufacturing facilities are expected to move overseas, where costs are lower. Most of these positions require an associate’s degree and completion of a training program. The median income for semiconductor processors is slightly lower than the national median income for all occupations.
4. Communications Equipment Operators
> Pct. decrease: -22%
> 2010 jobs: 164,000
> Total job loss (2010-2020): -36,100
> Median annual wage: $25,570
Most communications equipment operators either are telephone operators who provide customers with directory or billing information, or switchboard operators who relay calls. The BLS expects the number of telephone operators to decrease by 16.6% by the end of the decade and the number of switchboard operators to decline by 23.3% over the same time frame. Though the total number of operators is expected to fall by 36,100 by 2020, there will still be a projected 33,600 job openings as many workers decide to retire or otherwise leave a profession that paid a median annual wage of just $25,570.
3. Shoe and Leather Workers
> Pct. decrease: -23.1%
> 2010 jobs: 13,300
> Total job loss (2010-2020): -3,100
> Median annual wage: $23,980
The number of shoe and leather workers is expected to decline by more than 23% this decade from 2010 to 2020. The profession has witnessed a steady fall in the number of jobs over the past few decades because of the drop in the price of manufacturing — these days, people are inclined to buy new shoes rather than repairing old ones, unless the shoes or bags are very expensive or one of a kind. Most laborers in this field therefore specialize in luxury products in big cities across the country, where there is a larger market for their services. On the bright side, there is hope for shoe workers that have experience working with fitting shoes for orthopedic reasons. As the populations ages there will be an increased need for these services.
2. Sewing Machine Operators
> Pct. decrease: -25.8%
> 2010 jobs: 163,200
> Total job loss (2010-2020): -42,100
> Median annual wage: $20,600
Sewing machine operators use machinery to manufacture and decorate garments and a range of other products. By 2020, more than one quarter of such jobs will no longer exist, as the number of operators falls to 121,100. Further, only a handful professions are projected to lose a larger number of jobs than sewing machine operators, where 42,100 positions are expected to be lost. Among all jobs typically requiring less than a high school diploma, none is projected to lose more jobs, either as an absolute number or as a percentage of 2010 workers.
1. Postal Service Workers
> Pct. decrease: -26.4%
> 2010 jobs: 524,200
> Total job loss (2010-2020): -138,600
> Median annual wage: $53,090
It is not news to anyone that the U.S. Postal Service is suffering. In August of this year, the USPS announced that it was losing $57 million a day in the third quarter. The USPS cannot afford to hire more workers and many jobs will be replaced by machines to save money on salaries and benefits. There will be a decline of 48.5% in the number of mail sorters and processors because their functions are being automated. Similarly, there will be a decrease of 48.2% in the number of postal service clerks as a result of the drop in first-class mail use. The number of mail carriers is expected to fall by 12%, as their areas for delivery can expand as the volumes of mail contract. Because postal workers are considered government employees, their wages and benefits are quite good for the lack of an education requirement.
Michael B. Sauter, Lisa Uible and Alexander E.M. Hess