Special Report

America's 24 Dying Industries

Source: Thinkstock

9. Telephone apparatus manufacturing
> Employment change 2007-2016: -51.6%
> Employment total: 18,317
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 22.0%
> Avg. annual wage: $120,904

Telephone apparati include a range of communications equipment like internet modems, routers, and answering machines. Competition from communication device makers abroad has forced American communication apparatus manufacturing companies to shed workers at a faster rate than nearly any other industry. The number of establishments engaged in telephone apparatus manufacturing in the United States declined from 583 to 448 over the past decade, a 23.2% drop. Over the same period, the number of Americans employed in the industry has been cut in half.

Source: dgdimension / Getty Images

8. Hosiery and sock mills
> Employment change 2007-2016: -55.9%
> Employment total: 8,094
> Wage growth 2007-2016: -15.1%
> Avg. annual wage: $29,409

Jobs in knitting and finishing hosiery and socks are largely disappearing from America’s industrial landscape. Over the decade since 2007, the number of jobs in the industry fell from over 18,400 to fewer than 8,100, a 56% drop. The number of mills operating in the United States also declined by 47%.

A microcosm of the broader industry trend, Fort Payne, Alabama, formerly known as the “Sock Capital of the World,” once was home to 125 hosiery and sock mills, and is now home to fewer than two dozen. Over the last several decades, the town has lost much of its once dominant industry. Companies like Gildan-Prewett have been shuttering operations in town and shifting them abroad, taking advantage of cheaper labor.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Directory and mailing list publishers
> Employment change 2007-2016: -56.0%
> Employment total: 20,290
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 16.7%
> Avg. annual wage: $76,451

As the industry name implies, directory and mailing list publishers collect and compile information like mailing addresses, telephone numbers, or any number of other public records. Historically, the industry has derived its revenue from advertising in printed publications. However, like many industries on this list, directory and mailing list publishers are shedding jobs as more and more Americans shift away from print in favor of digital publications. Less advertising revenue means fewer jobs, and over the past decade, the industry shed some 25,800 workers — 56% of its workforce in 2007 — and shuttered nearly 1,000 production establishments.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Land subdivision
> Employment change 2007-2016: -56.0%
> Employment total: 40,814
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 22.8%
> Avg. annual wage: $81,257

Land subdivision involves dividing a large segment of land into smaller parcels, largely for the purpose of new home construction. Due in large part to industry consolidation and integration, as well as reduced demand for real estate in the wake of the recession and housing crisis, the industry shed 56% of its jobs in the past decade.

While the U.S. housing market has been recovering in recent years, it has yet to return to its pre-crisis levels. There were only 1.2 million new housing starts in the United States in 2016, 13.4% less than the nearly 1.4 million housing starts in 2007.

Source: hanusst / iStock

5. Port and harbor operations
> Employment change 2007-2016: -58.0%
> Employment total: 11,340
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 1.6%
> Avg. annual wage: $74,603

Jobs at ports and harbors typically involve cargo and ship handling and navigation — all jobs that are slowly being automated. While automation is killing jobs, it results in more efficient, precise, and profitable loading and unloading of ship cargo.

The industry is heavily dependent on global commerce — which is currently booming. While industry jobs may be disappearing, ports and harbors are not. As employment in the industry fell by 58.0% in the last 10 years, the number of U.S. ports and harbors increased by 2.2%.

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