Special Report

America's 25 Dying Industries

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The recent headline job numbers would appear to be positive. The economy added 253,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate fell from 3.5% in March to 3.4% – same as the 53-year low hit in January. The longer-term outlook, however, tells a gloomier story. Globalization and technological advancements such as artificial intelligence continue to disrupt the workplace, causing what some economists like to call a creative destruction of some jobs. 

To determine America’s 25 dying industries, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program. Detailed industries – at the 6-digit level of North American Industry Classification System aggregation – were ranked based on percentage change in employment from 2011 to 2021. Supplemental data on average annual wages also came from the BLS.

Every industry on our list has experienced a drop in employment from 2011 to 2021 of more than 51%. Two sectors in the crosshairs of change stand out – energy and publishing. (Also see, jobs that used to be common but no longer exist.)

In five energy categories, employment declined by at least 57% from 2011 to 2021. These are bituminous coal underground mining; drilling oil and gas wells; bituminous coal and lignite surface mining; support activities for coal mining; and uranium-radium-vanadium ore mining. Workers in these sectors are also relatively highly paid, earning more than $90,000 a year. 

Among publishers, the hardest hit in terms of employment decline were newspaper publishers; newsprint mills; directory and mailing list publishers; and greeting-card publishers. The latter group saw a drop of 12.2% in average annual wage from 2011 to 2021, the most of any industry. 

The financial sector, with some of the highest-paying jobs on our list, has suffered some of the largest job reductions. (These are the industries laying off the most workers.)

Click here to see Americas 25 dying industries.

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25. Tobacco farming
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -51.2%
> Total employment, 2021: 1,977
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +55.9%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $34,051

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24. Diet and weight reducing centers
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -54.0%
> Total employment, 2021: 14,648
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +89.1%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $36,364

Source: Maxiphoto / iStock via Getty Images

23. Photofinishing laboratories, except one-hour
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -55.6%
> Total employment, 2021: 5,650
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +27.0%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $59,918

Source: scanrail / iStock via Getty Images

22. Newspaper publishers
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -57.2%
> Total employment, 2021: 102,521
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +45.2%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $63,720

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21. Junior colleges
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -57.3%
> Total employment, 2021: 21,772
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +25.7%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $48,737

Source: keni1 / iStock via Getty Images

20. Bituminous coal underground mining
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -57.4%
> Total employment, 2021: 20,126
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +12.5%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $95,269

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19. Drilling oil and gas wells
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -57.6%
> Total employment, 2021: 37,043
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +14.6%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $103,443

Source: Adam88xx / iStock via Getty Images

18. Bituminous coal and lignite surface mining
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -57.9%
> Total employment, 2021: 16,262
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +20.5%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $93,605

Source: digi_guru / iStock via Getty Images

17. Photographic film and chemical manufacturing
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -59.1%
> Total employment, 2021: 7,164
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +23.0%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $77,342

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16. Newsprint mills
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -59.4%
> Total employment, 2021: 3,049
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +14.8%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $89,756

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15. Children’s and infants’ clothing stores
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -59.9%
> Total employment, 2021: 30,544
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +61.9%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $22,957

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14. Primary battery manufacturing
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -60.0%
> Total employment, 2021: 4,818
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +44.6%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $79,520

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13. Support activities for coal mining
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -60.7%
> Total employment, 2021: 3,657
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +22.8%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $78,613

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12. Directory and mailing list publishers
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -61.1%
> Total employment, 2021: 12,394
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +27.2%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $87,586

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11. Trusts, estates, and agency accounts
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -61.4%
> Total employment, 2021: 3,373
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +129.0%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $176,319

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10. Greeting card publishers
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -64.1%
> Total employment, 2021: 2,971
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: -12.2%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $59,024

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9. Uranium-radium-vanadium ore mining
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -64.7%
> Total employment, 2021: 359
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +24.7%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $95,815

Source: donvictorio / iStock via Getty Images

8. Port and harbor operations
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -65.0%
> Total employment, 2021: 6,383
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: -3.1%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $80,004

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7. Private households
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -65.9%
> Total employment, 2021: 218,908
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +109.1%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $35,372

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6. Health and welfare funds
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -68.2%
> Total employment, 2021: 3,387
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +53.5%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $86,935

Source: Angel Gruber / iStock via Getty Images

5. Consumer electronics and appliances rental
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -68.3%
> Total employment, 2021: 8,733
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +35.1%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $52,663

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4. One-hour photo finishing
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -69.2%
> Total employment, 2021: 416
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +33.3%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $34,252

Source: skynesher / E+ via Getty Images

3. Business and secretarial schools
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -78.8%
> Total employment, 2021: 3,511
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +37.7%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $50,576

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2. Pension funds
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -79.3%
> Total employment, 2021: 3,450
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: -9.6%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $99,477

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1. Open-end investment funds
> Change in employment, 2011 to 2021: -89.4%
> Total employment, 2021: 2,280
> Change in avg. annual wage, 2011 to 2021: +77.3%
> Avg. annual wage, 2021: $251,087

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