Special Report

America's 24 Dying Industries

Source: JohnnyH5 / Getty Images

9. Land subdivision
> Employment change 2008-17: -49.3%
> Employment total: 40,207
> Wage growth 2008-17: +35.5%
> Avg. annual wage: $71,744

The U.S. housing market is beginning to return to normal following the Great Recession and housing market crash. Housing starts in 2017 were similar to 2007 levels, before the crash. The land subdivision industry, which divides land into parcels for housing and other purposes, suffered as a result of the market’s struggles. As of 2017, industry employment is just about half of what it was a decade before.

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8. Newspaper publishers
> Employment change 2008-17: -50.3%
> Employment total: 160,739
> Wage growth 2008-17: -17.8%
> Avg. annual wage: $32,765

Newspaper publishing is one of only eight U.S. industries that employs less than half as many workers as it did in 2008. There are now just 160,739 newspaper publishers workers in the United States, compared to more than 320,000 a decade earlier. While people still read newspapers, many who do subscribe to the digital version, reducing the need for those who print physical copies. Industry workers today are making less money than industry workers in 2008. Since that time, the industry’s average annual wages dropped 17.8%, one of the larger declines of any industry.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Hosiery and sock mills
> Employment change 2008-17: -51.2%
> Employment total: 7,544
> Wage growth 2008-17: -11.6%
> Avg. annual wage: $31,243

Hosiery and sock mills are facing challenges on two fronts. Many of these products, which were once made by hand, are now being mass-manufactured by machines. These mills now need far fewer people to operate. Other hosiery and sock mills are being undercut by foreign competitors. Total industry employment declined by 51.2% since 2008. In that same time, average annual wages have also declined by 11.6% for those who still work in hosiery and sock mills.

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6. Directory and mailing list publishers
> Employment change 2008-17: -56.0%
> Employment total: 19,709
> Wage growth 2008-17: +19.0%
> Avg. annual wage: $76,446

The convenience of the internet is driving the directory and mailing list publisher industry out of business. Over the past decade, the industry’s employment has dropped by 56%. Most small businesses have a website, and that number is continuing to increase. Some people still use resources like the Yellow Pages to look for businesses in their area, but fewer do every day and those who do tend to be in the 55 and older demographic. As a result, the industry struggles and will likely continue to struggle.

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5. Photofinishing
> Employment change 2008-17: -57.9%
> Employment total: 9,006
> Wage growth 2008-17: +58.7%
> Avg. annual wage: $55,048

More and more Americans choose to share their photos online rather than print a physical copy. Photofinishing industry workers continue to feel the sting from this development in technology, as there are 57.9% fewer people working in the industry now than there were in 2008. With the advent of digital cameras and smartphones, people can instantly snap, edit, and share their photos digitally, eliminating the need for a middleman in most cases.

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