Special Report

America's 24 Dying Industries

Source: Thinkstock

4. Photofinishing
> Employment change 2007-2016: -59.2%
> Employment total: 9,703
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 63.3%
> Avg. annual wage: $55,433

Photofinishing is another prime example of an industry gutted by the rise of digital technology and media. An estimated 95% of Americans own a cell phone, the vast majority of which are equipped with a built-in digital camera. Photographs can now be taken and shared instantly through any number of social media applications, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

At one time, most Americans did not need to look further than their local drug store for a photo developing service. Today, as film cameras lose favor to digital devices, finding an outfit that still develops film is not as easy. The number of Americans working in photofinishing fell by nearly 60% between 2007 and 2016.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Magnetic media manufacturing and reproducing
> Employment change 2007-2016: -60.5%
> Employment total: 15,125
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 42.8%
> Avg. annual wage: $104,687

Employment in manufacturing of magnetic media, such as audio tapes and videotapes or floppy disks, is dying along with demand for such products. Now that media — both auditory and visual — can be streamed on demand through a number of web-based platforms, fewer and fewer Americans rely on physical copies of media for entertainment. Similarly, with technology like DVR and Tivo, most Americans have little reason to buy blank VHS tapes for the purpose of recording a TV show with a VCR.

Due largely to changes in how Americans consume information, music and movies, employment in magnetic media manufacturing and reproducing has declined by over 60% in the last decade.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Other apparel knitting mills
> Employment change 2007-2016: -65.1%
> Employment total: 4,065
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 33.6%
> Avg. annual wage: $37,529

The other apparel knitting mills industry classification includes knitting of outerwear, underwear, and nightwear. Like many other industries in the United States, cheaper labor abroad and improving technology are killing jobs in apparel knitting mills. In the past decade, total employment in the industry declined by 65%. Over the same period, the number knitting mills in the United States fell from 256 to 142. Declines in employment and output are projected to continue in the coming years.

Many companies in the industry not outsourcing labor are paying the price. American Apparel, for example, was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2015. Though there were multiple factors at play in American Apparel’s bankruptcy, the company pays factory workers more than most other companies in the industry, as it primarily manufactures its clothing in Los Angeles based mills.


Source: Thinkstock

1. Video tape and disc rental
> Employment change 2007-2016: -89.8%
> Employment total: 11,921
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 34.9%
> Avg. annual wage: $19,718

That video tape and DVD rentals shed the largest share of employees of any other industry in the last 10 years is likely not a surprise to anyone. Once a staple in nearly every American town, video rental stores are now about as rare as a home without a computer or internet access. About 86% of the 15,300 video rental stores that were open in 2007 are now shuttered.

The shift away from video rental has been ushered in by streaming services provided by companies like HBO, Amazon, and Netflix. In the last two years alone, Netflix’s revenue climbed 60% to over $8.8 billion.

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