America’s 24 Dying Industries

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Detailed Findings & Methodology

The types of industries shedding the most workers range broadly from telecommunications equipment manufacturing to newspaper publishers. While the types of jobs on this list often have little in common, their declines in recent years can often be traced to one of just two causes.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Martin Kohli, chief regional economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, explained that two major technological changes have led to steep employment declines in many of the industries on this list.

The first of these is the expansion of internet use and access. “Because of the continued expansion of the internet, there have been big changes in how people get information and entertainment, and this has created some winners and some losers” Kohli said.

Instant streaming access through online platforms like Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix have decimated VHS manufacturing and video and disc rental businesses. Employment in those industries fell by 60.5% and 89.8%, respectively, in the past decade.

Meanwhile, online news platforms and photo sharing social media applications have played a considerable role in the the decline of newspaper publishing, photofinishing, and libraries and archives. In the past decade, the number of Americans working in each of these industries has been cut in half.

The second major technological trend is related to increasing automation in the workplace. “Because of changes in technology, productivity has gone up in a number of industries so you need fewer people to make the same amount of stuff,” Kohli said.

Increased efficiency attributable to technology disproportionately affects the manufacturing industry. Of the 25 jobs on this list, 10 are in the manufacturing sector.

Many industries on this list continue to suffer from the longer term trend of globalization. Inexpensive labor abroad, as well as foreign manufacturers competing with U.S. companies, have each contributed to the decline of the American manufacturing sector.

To identify America’s 25 dying industries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed employment change from 2007 through last year for 712 U.S. industries in the fourth level of detail in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) by the Office of Management and Budget. All data, including the number of establishments within each industry, average weekly and annual wages, as well as breakouts of these data over government, private, and local levels were retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Several fourth tier industries from the 2007 data have been aggregated under 2012 codes. For example, “Tobacco Production Manufacturing” and “Tobacco Stemming and Redrying” are now aggregated under “Tobacco Manufacturing.” Data has been adjusted accordingly to ensure an accurate portrayal of 10-year employment change in these industries.

The BLS tracks industry employment by tallying the number of workers in establishments whose primary sources of revenue fall within a given industry. As a result, a given establishment along with all of its employees may be reclassified depending on business decisions and market performance. In 2013, the BLS reclassified workers employed in funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles, as well as employees of private households, into other industries. As a result, 2016 employment data for funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles, as well as private households, is uncomparable with 2007 data, and was not considered.

Correction: Due to Bureau of Labor Statistics data suppression, 24/7 Wall St. incorrectly identified libraries and archives as one of the industries losing the most workers. In fact, employment has remained stable.