Top Industries With the Most Job Losses

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Building a career is challenging enough in the best of circumstances, but working in an industry that is in decline and losing jobs can make it even harder to advance. If you are just starting out in the work world or looking for a career change, take the time to see which industries have better - and worse - potential than others. Employment in a growth industry will provide more opportunities for promotion and job change during your career.

While some United States' industries are expanding (with strong projections for employment gains), others are in decline. Shrinking industries traditionally hire fewer new workers and pay workers less than those in similar roles in thriving industries.

Even if you land a job in a contracting industry, layoffs will be more common, there will be fewer job opportunities, and job security will be much harder to come by. Therefore it makes sense to factor in the prospective growth, stagnation or decline of a given industry as you target your job search. For example, if you are interested in advertising sales, why not target leading online enterprises as opposed to print magazines?

Top 16 Industries for Job Losses 

The U.S. government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) studies trends in the economy and job market and makes projections regarding areas of job growth and losses. The latest set of projections predicts gains and losses through 2026, based on economic and job market trends.

These are the industries that the BLS expects to experience the greatest job losses, with projected decreases through 2026:

Wired Communication Carriers - 102,500
The rise in the use of mobile phones and the decline in landline accounts have cut into business, even though traditional carriers are expanding into other products.

Newspaper, Periodical, Book and Directory Publishers - 88,000
Online and digital content is the preferred source of information for most people, with print losing much of its market share.

Postal Service - 80,700
Increased use of email and digital advertising has decreased the flow of traditional mail. Most communications can be handled online rather than by postal mail, and private delivery services like UPS and FedEx have undercut the U.S. Postal Service.

Printing and Related Support Services - 73,200
Individuals and businesses are storing and sending documents digitally and avoiding the cost and storage concerns involved with printing paper.

Apparel Manufacturing - 48,200
Production has been outsourced to countries with cheaper labor costs, cutting U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Textile Mills - 44,200
Relocation of manufacturing to countries with less-expensive labor has led to a decline in the textile industry.

Plastics Products Manufacturing - 43,700
Environmental issues involved with disposal of plastics will drive employment decline. Like other areas of manufacturing, production is likely to be offshored.

Semiconductor and Electronic Component Manufacturing - 37,700
Globalization and production overseas will cause job losses.

Navigational, Measuring and Control Instrument Manufacturing - 35,500
Competition from overseas manufacturers has shrunk the U.S. market.

Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing - 25,800
A general drop in U.S. manufacturing jobs is due to the migration of jobs and product manufacturing overseas.

Foundries - 25,100
Requirements for investment have expanded and a trend towards mergers will limit prospects as the industry consolidates.

Communications Equipment Manufacturing - 23,700
Intense import competition from overseas companies will impact domestic manufacturers.

Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing Excluding Digital Cameras - 23,100
Consumers love their smartphones and often prefer handheld devices to other computer products, cutting back jobs.

Rubber Product Manufacturing - 21,500
Foreign competition and reduced prices for rubber products have constrained growth.

Pulp and Mills - 20,800
Digitization has cut the demand for some types of paper. The remaining companies have merged and limited their workforces.

Travel Arrangement and Reservation Services - 20,700
Automated, online and do-it-yourself travel services are replacing travel and tourism booking agencies.

Declining Occupations

Another way to identify some areas of employment with challenging job prospects is to review the BLS data on the fastest-declining occupations. These jobs have fallen out of favor for a variety of reasons, including: trends in the automation of production, outsourcing to overseas markets (where labor is cheaper), enhancements in information technology that reduce the need for workers, the emergence of the gig economy, and an increase in part-time and freelance workers filling what were once full-time jobs.

 

These are the fastest declining occupations through 2026, ranked by the percentage of jobs expected to be lost:

  • Locomotive Firers - 78.6%
  • Respiratory Therapy Technicians -56.3%
  • Parking Enforcement Workers -35.3%
  • Word Processors and Typist -33.1%
  • Watch Repairers -29.7%
  • Electronic Equipment Repairers for Motor Vehicles -25.6%
  • Foundry Mold and Coremakers -24%
  • Pourers and Metal Casters -23.4%
  • Computer Operators -22.8%
  • Telephone Operators -22.6%
  • Mine Shuttle Car Operators -21.9%
  • Electromechanical Equipment Operators -21.4%
  • Data Entry Keyers -21.2%
  • Postmasters and Mail Superintendents -20.9%
  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers -20.8%
  • Coil Winders, Tapers, Winders, and Finishers -20.7%
  • Switchboard Operators including Answering Services -19.9%
  • Prepress Technicians -19.9%
  • Legal Secretaries -19.1%
  • Photographic Process Workers -18.1%
  • Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants -17.4
  • Engine and Other Machine Assemblers -17.2%

The Best Industries for Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs for the average occupation will increase by 7.4 percent between 2016 and 2026. Healthcare support occupations (23.6 percent) and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (15.3 percent) are projected to be among the fastest growing occupational groups.

These are among the jobs in industries on the other side of the spectrum that are growing at a fast pace. The top 10 industries have high projected growth in employment opportunities, and many different types of jobs are available for those who are seeking career options.