Special Report

America's 25 Dying Industries

Telephone (landline) (office)
Source: Thinkstock

10. Telephone apparatus manufacturing
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -51.4%
> Employment total: 18,841
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 23.1%
> Avg. annual wage: $115,196

Manufacturing of telephone apparatuses, including chord and wireless home telephones and telephone components, is a rapidly disappearing industry. Employment in the field has dropped from 38,700 in 2006 to less than 19,000 in 2015. The proliferation of mobile phones precipitated the industry’s decline. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 91% of American adults owned a cellphone in mid-2013, up from 65% in 2004. In addition to advancing technology, many jobs in the field have been outsourced as cheaper labor abroad allows manufacturers to maintain profit in the face of falling demand.

Sewing (Sewing Machine)
Source: Thinkstock

9. Cut and sew apparel contractors
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -52.4%
> Employment total: 40,521
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 34.4%
> Avg. annual wage: $31,027

Cut and sew apparel contractors are one of many apparel manufacturing sector sub industries to undergo rapid employment declines in the last decade. The number of cut and sew apparel contractors fell from more than 85,000 in 2006 to about 40,500 in 2015. In part because of cheap labor costs, many industry jobs that were once held in manufacturing hubs across America moved abroad. As of early 2014, the United States imported nearly 14 times more clothing than it exported. In China, the origin of the bulk of clothing Americans import, minimum wage in the garment industry is equivalent to less than $150 a month.

Framing contractors, art studio
Source: Thinkstock

8. Framing contractors
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -55.0%
> Employment total: 73,208
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 24.1%
> Avg. annual wage: $39,551

While employment declined by 15.3% in the broader construction industry, the number of framing contractors in the U.S. has declined by 55% in the past decade. The drop in industry employment has coincided with slowing demand for new homes. There were 162,851 framing contractors in 2006. That year, Americans built nearly 2.0 million new housing units. By 2015, there were only 73,208 framing contractors as 968,300 new homes were built.

Socks
Source: Thinkstock

7. Hosiery and sock mills
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -56.9%
> Employment total: 8,994
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: -14.7%
> Avg. annual wage: $30,678

Hosiery and sock mills are a prime example of a once-dominant American industry that is being automated and moving abroad. U.S. employment in the industry in the past decade has been more than halved from nearly 21,000 to less than 9,000 workers. In addition to eliminating jobs, competition from lower-wage labor abroad has also contributed to declining industry incomes. The average annual pay of an industry worker is only about $30,700, $5,300 less than the average pay in 2006.

Land subdivision
Source: Thinkstock

6. Land subdivision
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -57.4%
> Employment total: 41,674
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 16.9%
> Avg. annual wage: $79,154

Land subdivision entails dividing large segments of land into smaller plots to be sold to builders. Land is most often subdivided for residential construction. The 10-year 57.4% employment decline in the industry is likely linked to the dramatic slowdown in new home construction in the last 10 years. Americans built 2.0 million new homes in 2006, far more than the 968,300 new homes built in 2015. New home construction bottomed out in 2011, when only 585,000 new homes were completed in the United States.