Special Report

America's 25 Dying Industries

Textile Winding
Source: Thinkstock

15. Textile and fabric finishing mills
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -47.3%
> Employment total: 25,191
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 24.7%
> Avg. annual wage: $43,733

Those who work in textile and fabric finishing mills add the final touches to clothes, such as bleaching, dyeing, and adding various types of artificial wear. Since 2000, the number of textile jobs in the United States fell by 46%. As is the case with many textile manufacturing jobs, both outsourcing and automation have contributed significantly to U.S. employment declines.

Magician and assistant. Formal wear and costume rental
Source: Thinkstock

14. Formal wear and costume rental
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -49.6%
> Employment total: 7,003
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 36.4%
> Avg. annual wage: $27,954

The formal wear and costume rental industry is one of the many economic casualties of cheap foreign manufacturing imports. Because prices of such garments declined substantially, instead of renting a tuxedo or gown for black tie events, Americans have opted to buy their own formal wear in recent years. Many consumers are doing the same with Halloween costumes, choosing to buy inexpensive Chinese imports over costume rental. Nearly half of all formal wear and costume rental shops closed their doors over the past decade, as the total establishment count dropped from 2,100 in 2006 to 1,100 in 2015. Employment fell at the same pace.

Professional employer Business meeting)
Source: Thinkstock

13. Professional employer organizations
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -49.6%
> Employment total: 363,623
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 32.1%
> Avg. annual wage: $41,625

Professional employer organizations, which include companies like ADP, manage some of the human resources needs for corporations. These companies manage payrolls, taxes, and handle former employees’ unemployment claims. In the past decade, employment in the industry has declined by nearly half. One reason for the industry’s decline may be the development of increasingly advanced software that allows businesses to handle their own human resources needs. Despite this employment drop, the number of establishments has actually declined by less than 5%.

telephone-directory
Source: Thinkstock

12. Directory and mailing list publishers
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -50.5%
> Employment total: 22,146
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 22.0%
> Avg. annual wage: $78,366

Mailing lists and contact directories can be invaluable for companies and marketing firms to reach large groups of individuals who might fit a certain demographic. Employment in the industry declined substantially, from 44,800 in 2006 to about 22,100 in 2015.

Likely one of the biggest factors in the decline of directory and mailing list publishing business is the development and widespread use of customer relationship management software such as Salesforce, which automatically generates targeted customer lists for companies. Revenue of the company tripled in the last five years and it now has more than 150,000 clients.

Curtains and linen
Source: Thinkstock

11. Curtain and linen mills
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -51.2%
> Employment total: 20,592
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 27.5%
> Avg. annual wage: $35,753

The curtain and linen mill industry is on the decline, with employment dropping by more than 50% over the past decade, from roughly 42,000 to about 21,000. The number of facilities producing these goods fell from 2,396 in 2006 to less than 1,600 in 2015. Outsourcing is usually blamed for the decline in textile jobs in the United States, but improvements in robotics and other forms of automation are also partially to blame.