Special Report

12 Jobs Being Lost to China

Textile machine
Source: Thinkstock

3. Textile machine setters, operators, and tenders
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -24.3%
> 2014 jobs: 79,900
> 2024 jobs: 60,500
> Median annual wage: $26,690

According to the Economic Policy Institute, more than 90,000 U.S. textile jobs were displaced due to shifts in trade with China in the first decade of the 21st century. Over the decade ending in 2024, the U.S. labor market will shed an 24.3% of the remaining textile jobs. While many of these job losses are attributable to increasing efficiency driven by technology, cheaper labor in other countries, such as China, is also contributing to employment decline in the U.S. textile workforce.

Industrial metal mold milling
Source: Thinkstock

2. Molders and molding machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -25.2%
> 2014 jobs: 141,500
> 2024 jobs: 105,800
> Median annual wage: $29,630

Molding machines are mostly used in foundries to make molds for metal castings. From 2001 to 2010, the United States lost 123,900 jobs related to fabricated metal products to China. According to the EPI, this was one of the largest hits taken by any sector. In the coming years, the BLS anticipates a continued decrease in the number of U.S. metal and plastic molders. While total U.S. employment is projected to increase by 7% between 2014 and 2024, the number of molding machine operators is expected to decrease by 25.2% over the same time.

Sewing machine operator
Source: Thinkstock

1. Sewing machine operators
> Projected loss 2014-2024: -27.1%
> 2014 jobs: 153,900
> 2024 jobs: 112,200
> Median annual wage: $22,550

Historically, outsourcing has significantly undercut sewing machine operator and seamstress jobs in the United States. In the coming years, advances in industrial technology and the continued outsourcing of textile manufacturing are projected to lead to a continued reduction in demand for American sewing machine operators. Employment in the occupation is projected to decrease by 27.1% over the decade ending 2024, the largest contraction of any job being outsourced. The typical sewing machine operators earns $22,550 a year. While this is one of the lowest median salaries of any profession, sewing machine workers overseas are likely paid less.

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