The past decade in America has been brutal to the job market. During this time the number of nonfarm jobs has risen only a meager five percent over these past ten years. Job growth has been slow across the board but there are several career fields that have been hit the hardest. Among these jobs are advertising and promotion managers falling by nearly two-thirds, construction workers hit hard by the housing crisis and manufactures who lost jobs due to structural changes in the economy. These jobs are considered Americas ‘disappearing’ jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011 report almost 1.5 million jobs were lost in the construction industry between 2007 and 2009 which is a twenty percent drop, the largest of any major career sector. At present jobs in this field are still below the pre-recession levels.
There are many factors that have contributed to the sharp decline, among which include companies moving jobs overseas to save on costs. Also advances in technology and automation has been responsible for more than a fifty percent decrease in jobs between 2002 and 2012. Improved software and its associated automation processes has cut the need for jobs that once had to be done by hand.
A study was conducted to determine which jobs suffered the highest percentage of employment decline. Information was obtained from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics program for both 2002 and 2012. Only jobs with more than 20,000 employees were looked at in the report as well as only those occupations that existed both in 2002 and 2012. Self-employed workers were not examined in this study. These figures are estimates based on the sampled population. According to this study the ten hardest hit occupations are as follows.
10 Semiconductor Processors
Despite the increase in electronic devices, the need for these labors has reduced mainly because the size of the semiconductors have become so small they are almost impossible to build with human hands. Automated production is the preferred method. This also allows for a more cleanly manufacturing environment which is essential for quality. Outsourcing to other countries to reduce costs has also been a drain on this field.
10 year job percentage decline: -51%
10 year job decline: -22,250 employees
Total employed in 2012: 21,380
Median annual pay in 2012: $33,020
9 Press Technicians
These individuals are primarily responsible for print publications. With the online media available to the public, the printing industry is on the decline. Also the advances in computer software allow many applications, ones that used to be sent to a printing company for completion, to be done right in office by the company employees with little instruction or training.
10 year job percentage decline: -54%
10 year job decline: -47,950 employees
Total employed in 2012: 41,420
Median annual pay in 2012: $37,260
8 Word Processors and Typists
Even though it is not the occupation with the highest percentage decline, it is the highest among the top 10 ‘disappearing’ jobs in America because of the over 100,000 employees that have lost their job in this field. Computer and technology advancement along with the reliance on electronic business transactions have made their jobs almost completely unnecessary. Those companies that still require hard copies of documentation usually have employees already who are very familiar with today’s software applications.
10 year job percentage decline: -54%
10 year job decline: -112,640 employees
Total employed in 2012: 96,560
Median annual pay in 2012: $35,270
7 Textile Knitting and Weaving Machine Setters, Operators and Tenders
These workers primary task has been to set up, monitor and operate the machines used in textile manufacturing. Advances in manufacturing technology have created less of a need for these employees as well as outsourcing to countries with cheaper labor and materials. However, information gathered also indicates that the increase in productivity gained by using automated processes and overseas workers has also led to the decline.
10 year job percentage decline: -57%
10 year job decline: -28,300 employees
Total employed in 2012: 21,110
Median annual pay in 2012: $26,540
6 Computer Operators
This title refers to individuals who operate computer terminals and are responsible for monitoring data processing systems as well as ensure the machines are functioning properly. They must respond to error messages and document these problems. With the advanced computer technology, the machines run themselves with fairly few problems. If there are problems they are documented and reported through the computer itself negating the need for individuals to perform these tasks.
10 year job percentage decline: -59%
10 year job decline: -101,080 employees
Total employed in 2012: 71, 560
Median annual pay in 2012: $38,390
5 Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, Tile and Marble Setters – Helpers
These individuals have the job of helping contractors at various stages of construction ranging from laying the foundation to completing the finishing touches. They typically perform tasks that are more manual and require less skill. They have fallen victim to the recent housing crisis which has been responsible for the loss of thousands of jobs. At present, home prices still remain well below the pre-crisis values.
10 year job percentage decline: -60%
10 year job decline: -36,430 employees
Total employed in 2012: 24,310
Median annual pay in 2012: $28,220
4 Drilling and Boring Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic
These workers must set up, operate, or tend to drilling machines that are responsible for drilling, boring, reaming, milling, or countersinking metal or plastic work pieces. Simply put, automation has been the key factor to the decline in this industry. A job that requires the employee to be knowledgeable in the properties of metal types and specific plastics is no longer necessary requirement. The machines now have the ability to precisely manipulate the metal and plastic with extreme accuracy just through programming.
10 year job percentage decline: -60%
10 year job decline: -31,070 employees
Total employed in 2012: 20,660
Median annual pay in 2012: $33,940
3 Plasterers and Stucco Masons
Employees in this occupation apply coatings to walls for decorative and functional purposes. The decline in house construction has led to the decrease in this field. Hopefully, as construction recovers in the future, we may see an increase in this occupation once again.
10 year job percentage decline: -61%
10 year job decline: -33,250 employees
Total employed in 2012: 21,040
Median annual pay in 2012: $37,130
2 Carpenters’ Helpers
A carpenters’ assistant is responsible for performing lower skilled tasks such as cutting timber, smoothing surfaces, setting up scaffolding and other similar jobs. Because of the decline in the housing market, many of these individuals have lost their jobs. Senior carpenters had been badly hit as well causing a decline in their profession. Those who were lucky enough to remain in business did not have the resources to employ as many assistants as they would like. Hopefully as the housing market recovers and home building reaches pre-recession levels these jobs will once again become available.
10 year percentage decline: -63%
10 year decline: -62,030 employees
Total employed in 2012: 35,870
Median annual pay in 2012: $25,550
1 Advertising and Promotions Managers
The hardest hit occupation of the last decade has been the advertising and promotions managers. These men and women are responsible for determining which media to advertise in, conduct market research and plan advertising campaigns. The major factor of the decline in this field has been the decline of advertising in print media. Online advertising is the way of the future and has been attributed to major job loss in print advertising occupations. Also, much of the research information that was once paid for to find is now available to the public readily through the internet.
10 year job percentage decline: -65%
10 year job decline: -52,670
Total employed in 2012: 28,420
Median annual pay in 2012: $88,590