Special Report

America's Fastest Shrinking Jobs

Alexander Kent, Michael B. Sauter

10. Switchboard Operators, Including Answering Service
> 10-year job growth:
-44.2%
> Total employed: 26,550
> Median annual pay: $26,550

Some jobs, such as switchboard operators, are disappearing because of changes in technology or in societal needs — changes that are likely permanent. With the increased use of automated switchboards and similar technology there is little need for live operators. Close to 200,000 Americans were employed in these positions a decade ago. Last year, just 108,890 people worked in the field. The BLS projects this decline to continue in the coming years.

9. Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders
> 10-year job growth:
-46.8%
> Total employed: 22,760
> Median annual pay: $27,270

Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders are responsible for checking cloth and machines for defects. From 2005 through 2014, employment in this field fell by 46.8% to just under 23,000 jobs. Outsourcing is likely the main reason for the dramatic decline. While workers in this field are paid just $27,270 in the United States, 77% of the national median salary, such workers in other countries like Bangladesh, India, and China are paid significantly less. The BLS projects employment to decline to 16,500 jobs by 2022.

8. Word Processors and Typists
> 10-year job growth:
-47.1%
> Total employed: 81,300
> Median annual pay: $36,700

Word processors and typists are responsible for typing letters or reports from rough drafts or voice recordings. Over the 10 years ending in 2014, the number of workers employed as word processors and typists declined by 47.1% to 81,300. Advances in computers and other new technology may soon make the administrative and support tasks associated with word processor and typist occupations obsolete. Employment in this field is projected to shrink further in the future, with the BLS forecasting a 25% drop in the 10 years through 2022.