Special Report

10 Disappearing Middle Class Jobs

4. Computer operators
> Projected employment change, 2012-2022:
: -17.0%
> 2012 employment: 74,600
> 2012 median annual wage: $38,390

Even as computers have become nearly ubiquitous in offices and in homes, the number of dedicated computer operators is expected to decline 12,700 through 2022. These workers monitor and control computers and peripheral data processing equipment for business, scientific, engineering, and other applications. These operators respond to complaints of personal computer and mainframe malfunctions. With the continued increase in computer operation outsourcing, the number of computer operator positions is expected to decline 17.0%, or about 12,700 positions, through 2022. Computer operators have the highest salary of the private sector occupations most likely to decline through the end of 2022.

3. Data entry keyers
> Projected employment change, 2012-2022:
: -24.6%
> 2012 employment: 220,300
> 2012 median annual wage: $28,010

More data entry keyer jobs are projected to be eliminated than all but one of the 359 middle skill jobs reviewed by the BLS. The number of people working in the occupation is expected to decline 54,200 through 2022, or by 24.6%. Data entry keyers operate data entry devices, such as keyboards, and sometimes verify data and prepare materials for printing. Many data entry keyer positions are being supplanted by improved technology such as voice recognition technology, which allows the spoken word to go directly to a computer screen or document. There were more people employed as data entry keyers in 2012 than in any other of the top 10 middle skill occupations expected to decline through 2022.

2. Word processors and typists
> Projected employment change, 2012-2022:
: -25.1%
> 2012 employment: 104,400
> 2012 median annual wage: $35,270

The ranks of word processors and typists, who have jobs similar to data entry keyers, will dwindle through 2022 for many of the same reasons. The number of word processors and typists is expected to drop 25.1% — the second largest percentage decline of middle skill occupations 2022. Part of the reason is executives and others who had relied on typists are now doing their own typing and word processing. These jobs carry a median annual salary second only to postal clerks and computer operators among the top private sector jobs expected to decline through 2022. The number of word processor and typist jobs is expected to decline by 26,200.

1. Postal service clerks
> Projected employment change, 2012-2022:
: -31.8%
> 2012 employment: 66,900
> 2012 median annual wage: $53,090

Topping the list of middle skill jobs likely to decline through 2022 is postal service clerks, who also happen to be the highest paid, earning almost $15,000 more annually than the second highest paid workers on the list. Postal service clerks perform a wide range of tasks such as receiving letters and parcels; selling stamps, post cards, and stamped envelopes; filling out and selling money orders; sorting mail and checking mail for correct postage. The jobs, though, are threatened as the U.S. Postal Service continues to run an operating deficit despite increasing revenues. The number of postal clerk jobs is expected to shrink from 66,900 in 2012 to 45,700 clerks by 2022.