Special Report

America's 24 Dying Industries

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24. Book and periodical merchant wholesalers
> Employment change 2008-17: -37.6%
> Employment total: 36,184
> Wage growth 2008-17: +7.9%
> Avg. annual wage: $44,372

Book and periodical merchant wholesalers is one of many industries that has been hit hard by the rise in the digital media industry. As people increasingly read their book, magazine, and newspaper content online, book and periodical wholesales are seeing reduced demand from retailers. With the industry in decline, employment has dropped 37.6% over the past decade.

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23. Office supplies, except paper, manufacturing
> Employment change 2008-17: -37.6%
> Employment total: 11,198
> Wage growth 2008-17: +14.5%
> Avg. annual wage: $49,893

Once essential supplies like pens, pencils, staplers, and stamps are being phased out in offices worldwide. Instead of writing notes, people send emails. Instead of hard files, people file on a company server or cloud. As the industry has struggled, pay growth for those working to manufacture office supplies has been sluggish. Since 2008, pay in the industry has increased by just 14.5%. That slightly outpaced the U.S. cost of living increase, but fell well behind the pay growth in the vast majority of other industries.

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22. Drywall and insulation contractors
> Employment change 2008-17: -38.0%
> Employment total: 241,401
> Wage growth 2008-17: -14.8%
> Avg. annual wage: $26,807

The number of new homes being built fell below one million for the first time since at least the 1950s in 2008, and remained there until 2014. This year, a decade after the housing market crash, employment for drywall and insulation contractors is about 38% below pre-crash levels. However, now that the housing market is more settled, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment in this industry will be relatively stable for the next several years.

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21. Political organizations
> Employment change 2008-17: -38.4%
> Employment total: 7,728
> Wage growth 2008-17: -10.0%
> Avg. annual wage: $34,308

Though it seems the recent elections attracted everybody’s attention, the political organization industry shed 38.4% of its workers from 2008 to 2017. These include people working in political action committees, political parties, campaigns, and interest groups at the local, state, and national level. The industry was also one of the very few that saw its wages decline during that time frame as well. Political organization wages fell 10% over the past decade.

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20. Telephone apparatus manufacturing
> Employment change 2008-17: -40.1%
> Employment total: 19,475
> Wage growth 2008-17: +32.5%
> Avg. annual wage: $130,878

Since 2008, employment in the telephone apparatus manufacturing industry shrank by more than 40% to fewer than 20,000 workers. This industry largely produces products like wire telephones, cordless phones, and answering machines — all products that have been made virtually obsolete by the cell phone. In America, 95% of people have a cell phone of some kind. The share of people who have a smartphone has more than doubled since 2011, up to 77%. Traditional mounted phones lack the convenience and features of mobile phones and are being quickly phased out of the consumer market.

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