Special Report

America's 25 Dying Industries

Source: M_a_y_a / Getty Images

15. Bookstores
> Employment change 2009-2018: -41.3%
> Employment total: 71,299
> 10-yr. change in avg. annual pay: +14.2%
> Avg. annual pay: $19,827

Between 2009 and 2018, the number of bookstores in the United States fell by a third — from nearly 10,000 to fewer than 6,500. Over the same period, employment in the industry was slashed by 41.3%. Much of the decline is attributable to the growth of e-books. The digitization of books contributed to the bankruptcy of the Borders bookstore chain, which liquidated its assets in 2011, laying off some 11,000 workers and closing 400 locations.

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14. Junior colleges
> Employment change 2009-2018: -42.7%
> Employment total: 26,100
> 10-yr. change in avg. annual pay: +8.2%
> Avg. annual pay: $41,695

Junior colleges are educational institutions that issue degrees below the baccalaureate level, including associate degrees and technical certifications. In the last decade, the number of people working in the industry declined by 42.7%. The decline in employment in private junior colleges is in stark contrast to the projected surge in overall employment in postsecondary institutions in the next decade. The decline in junior colleges is likely due in part to the decline of private, for profit colleges.

13. Newspaper publishers
> Employment change 2009-2018: -46.9%
> Employment total: 146,505
> 10-yr. change in avg. annual pay: +23.0%
> Avg. annual pay: $52,813

Few industries have been hit as hard as newspaper publishing in the United States in recent years, mostly due to internet use growth. As online news content has proliferated, and is now accessible through smartphones, newspaper subscriptions have fallen precipitously. In 2009, there were an estimated 45.7 million weekday newspaper subscriptions. As of 2018, there were only about 28.6 million.

Source: Bilby / Wikimedia Commons

12. Photographic film and chemical manufacturing
> Employment change 2009-2018: -47.2%
> Employment total: 10,251
> 10-yr. change in avg. annual pay: +10.1%
> Avg. annual pay: $65,865

Advances in digital photography and improved smartphone cameras have spelled doom for the traditional film photography industry. Between 2009 and 2019, the number of Americans working in the photographic film and chemical manufacturing industry was nearly halved, falling from 19,427 to just over 10,000.

Source: Inkaroad / Wikimedia Commons

11. Photofinishing laboratories, except one-hour
> Employment change 2009-2018: -47.4%
> Employment total: 7,874
> 10-yr. change in avg. annual pay: +63.1%
> Avg. annual pay: $60,682

Along with other industries on this list, like portrait photography and film manufacturing, photofinishing laboratories are being gutted as digital and smartphone camera technology continues to improve. In the last 10 years, the number of establishments providing such services fell by 38.8%, and employment fell by an even more staggering 47.4%.