Special Report

America's 25 Dying Industries

As long as industries have been evolving and growing, they have also been going extinct. Over the past decade, innovation, overseas outsourcing, national and state legislation, changing consumer preference, a recession, and a number of other economic factors have coalesced to significantly alter the industrial composition in the United States.

The U.S. employment growth of 3.8% over the past decade was not even across all industries. In fact, 341 of 596 industries classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had negative employment growth between 2005 and 2014. Jobs at open-end investment funds contracted the most, going from 21,918 workers to just 421 over the 10-year period. To identify the fastest dying industries, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed employment figures from 2005 to 2014 from the BLS.

The reasons behind the declines of these industries are different. The employment decline in newspaper publishing, which is one of the fastest shrinking industries, can be directly linked to the proliferation of digital news media. However, the employment decline in private household workers, such as cooks, maids, butlers, gardeners, and babysitters, is somewhat less straightforward. Nevertheless, a few economic trends can explain the downsizing in many U.S. industries.

Click here to see America’s thriving industries.

Click here to see America’s dying industries.

One trend is the decline of domestic manufacturing. As the U.S. continues to source its cotton manufacturing and production from foreign countries, many U.S. textile-related industries dwindle. Employment in hosiery and sock mills, for example, fell from 23,171 workers in 2005 to 8,876 in 2014, a 61.7% contraction.

The manufacturing slump is strengthened by a decline in new home construction. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist at the BLS, explained “The level of spending on residential investments still remains below where it was, in real terms, before the housing bubble burst, and that means that construction is below where it was.” Kohli went on: “It also means that the manufacturing industries that produce things that go into the construction of new homes — they’re relatively depressed, too.”

Another such trend may be more obvious to the average consumer. The widespread popularity of digital media and online streaming options has precipitated the downfall of many formerly prominent brick-and-mortar media industries. Employment in video tape and disc rental fell by 88.8% over the past decade, from 143,799 American workers in 2005 to just 16,145 in 2014.

To identify the dying industries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed employment growth from 2005 through last year for 596 U.S. industries in the fourth level of detail in The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) by the U.S. Census Bureau. All data, including the number of establishments within each industry, average weekly and annual wages, as well as breakouts of these data over government, private, and local levels were retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). We excluded industries defined as miscellaneous, catch-all, or in vague terms such as “all other.”

These are the America’s dying industries.

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