Special Report

America's 24 Dying Industries

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19. Textile and fabric finishing mills
> Employment change 2008-17: -41.3%
> Employment total: 23,253
> Wage growth 2008-17: +25.8%
> Avg. annual wage: $45,527

The textile and fabric finishing mills industry has been emblematic of the problems plaguing the U.S. manufacturing industry as a whole. Domestic textile manufacturers have been replaced by many U.S. apparel companies with manufacturers from developing countries from across the world to reduce costs. Employment in the industry is also falling due to increased automation in factories. In the past decade, the industry shed 41.3% of its workforce. Going forward, the industry may stand to benefit from tariffs on textiles imposed on China by the Trump administration.

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18. Cut and sew apparel contractors
> Employment change 2008-17: -41.5%
> Employment total: 35,926
> Wage growth 2008-17: +23.4%
> Avg. annual wage: $33,104

Apparel contractors who cut and sew fabrics owned by others for making clothing face many of the same issues that those in the textile industry face, particularly increasing competition from overseas. The cut and sew apparel contractors industry is one of just 21 U.S. industries that shed more than 40% of its workers over the last decade. From 2008 through 2017, there was a 41.5% decline in employment in the industry.

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17. Tobacco manufacturing
> Employment change 2008-17: -41.8%
> Employment total: 12,184
> Wage growth 2008-17: +15.4%
> Avg. annual wage: $43,977

Tobacco manufacturing jobs have decreased significantly over the past decade, as tobacco use continues to decline. Over the last few decades, the health associated with smoking have become more well known, and the share of Americans who smoke has declined considerably, from 45% of U.S. adults in the 1950s to 16% today, an all-time low. Smokeless tobacco usage has increased in recent years, but not enough to offset the lower demand resulting from smokers quitting and younger Americans not taking up smoking.

Like other manufacturing jobs, falling employment in tobacco manufacturing is also attributable in part to automation’s ever increasing role in production.

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16. Other telecommunications
> Employment change 2008-17: -42.4%
> Employment total: 80,395
> Wage growth 2008-17: +156.2%
> Avg. annual wage: $63,094

The telecommunications sector comprises companies involved in communication technology — primarily wireless operators, cable companies, and internet service providers. While employment in the wired and wireless telecommunications industry rose slightly over the past 10 years, employment in other, more specialized telecommunications activities — such as satellite tracking, communications telemetry, and radar station operation — declined 42.4% over the from 2008 to 2017, one of the largest declines of any industry.

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15. Stationery product manufacturing
> Employment change 2008-17: -42.6%
> Employment total: 17,336
> Wage growth 2008-17: +17.2%
> Avg. annual wage: $50,759

Stationery product manufacturing is one of many industries hurting due in part to the growing ubiquity of digital communication. While employment in the internet publishing industry nearly tripled over the past 10 years, the number of workers in stationery product manufacturing fell by 42.6%, one of the largest declines of any industry.

While, according to the Association for Print Technologies, employment in the industry is down overall, demand for speciality paper products, such as handcrafted journals, heavy cardstock, and Moleskine notebooks, is on the rise and may help to slow falling employment in the industry.

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