Special Report

America's 25 Dying Industries

Photofinishing (darkroom)
Source: Thinkstock

5. Photofinishing
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -60.2%
> Employment total: 10,431
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 60.9%
> Avg. annual wage: $52,373

Today, the vast majority of adults in the United States carry a mobile phone with a built-in digital camera. This modern convenience is partially to blame for steep employment declines in the photofinishing, or film developing, industry. In the past decade, the number of jobs in the industry has dropped by more than 60%, from 26,239 in 2006 to only 10,431 in 2015.

Floppy disks, magnetic media manufacturing and reproducing
Source: Thinkstock

4. Magnetic media manufacturing and reproducing
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -60.8%
> Employment total: 16,019
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 56.4%
> Avg. annual wage: $105,555

The magnetic media manufacturing and reproducing industry entails the production of computer hard drives and DVDs. It also includes the manufacturing of antiquated data storage technology like floppy disks and video cassettes. In the last 10 years, solid state hard drives and cloud storage, as well as streaming services have made many once-dominant forms of magnetic media manufacturing obsolete. The number of industry jobs has declined from over 40,000 in 2006 to only about 16,000 last year.

Other apparel knitting mill
Source: Thinkstock

3. Other apparel knitting mills
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -66.9%
> Employment total: 4,041
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 23.0%
> Avg. annual wage: $33,875

The other apparel knitting mills industry classification primarily comprises underwear, outerwear, and nightwear fabric manufacturing. In addition to automation, which has made many industry jobs obsolete, low labor costs abroad has lead to the massive outsourcing of jobs across the broader apparel manufacturing sector. The number of Americans working in apparel knitting mills has dropped from 12,208 in 2006 to only 4,041 last year. The United States imported about $80 billion worth of clothing in 2013, while it exported less than $6 billion. China, which has one of the lowest minimum wages for garment workers of any country, is by far the largest manufacturer of clothing shipped to the United States.

Library, libraries and archives
Source: Thinkstock

2. Libraries and archives
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -80.0%
> Employment total: 32,992
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 57.9%
> Avg. annual wage: $41,949

Employment in libraries and archives has declined by 80% in the last 10 years, more than in all but two other U.S. industries. It is no coincidence that declining employment in libraries and archives, like many fading industries, has coincided with the proliferation of the internet. Information that was once available only in libraries and archives is now accessible on personal computers in homes nationwide. According to the Pew Research Center, only about half of all American adults used the internet in 2000. By 2015, the share grew to 84%. Going forward, local government budget cuts will likely stymie employment growth in the industry.

Video rental store
Source: Thinkstock

1. Video tape and disc rental
> Employment change from 2006-2015: -89.0%
> Employment total: 14,042
> Wage growth from 2006-2015: 52.8%
> Avg. annual wage: $22,191

Once an essential component of nearly every American town, video rental stores are now in short supply. Due to shifts in the way people consume media, namely the growing popularity of streaming and on-demand video services like Netflix and Hulu, demand for movie rental establishments has dropped precipitously. In the last 10 years, industry employment has dwindled from nearly 128,000 to less than 15,000. At its peak in 2004, there were more than 9,000 locations of the Blockbuster video rental chain. It closed its remaining 300 stores in 2013 after declaring bankruptcy in 2010.

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