10 U.S. Jobs That Are Disappearing Fastest

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Finding a job is tough under any circumstances, but it’s harder for those in fields that are slowly slipping away.

Governing Magazine studied recently reviewed Labor Department Occupational Employment Statistics data for all occupations, and created a list showing which occupations declined the most over the past decade.

Some of them won’t be a surprise — the automation of certain tasks means there is less need for file clerk and data entry jobs, for example. And anyone who has monitored the drop in postal mail would expect there to be fewer mail-sorting jobs.

But others may surprise you. Read on for the top 10 jobs that are disappearing fastest, beginning with No. 10.

10. Telecommunications line installers and repairers

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Job decline over past decade: 30%

The late country singer Glen Campbell had a 1968 hit with “Wichita Lineman,” a moody tune about the lonely life of a telephone-company line worker. But while the Wichita Lineman may still be on the line — as the lyrics defiantly state — there are fewer telecommunications line installers and repairers these days.

Governing reports that there are now 50,000 fewer workers in this job than there were a decade ago. There’s simply less need for these workers, as more Americans have opted to cut the cord on cable or phone service, Governing notes.

9. Installation, maintenance and repair worker helpers

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Job decline over past decade: 30%

The title of this job can be confusing. First, there are installation, maintenance and repair workers, who toil at everything from car repair to jobs in the building equipment trade. These workers assist those employees, such as by holding and supplying tools, according to the O*NET OnLine website, which is an application the U.S. Department of Labor developed for the public.

According to Governing, 51% of such workers have a high school diploma or equivalent, although 28% don’t have a diploma. So, it’s a fairly easy field to enter. But you might want to think twice — and stay in school — because the field has lost 30% of the jobs it had a decade ago.

8. Production worker helpers

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Job decline over past decade: 30%

These employees help production workers, who toil at everything from food processing to machinist duties. The helpers fill low-level jobs and perform tasks that don’t often require a lot of training.

For example, they may clean work areas or equipment, or hold materials or tools for the workers they are helping. According to the O*NET OnLine, they’re likely to wear protective equipment, to work in areas with distractingly loud noise levels, and to spend time making repetitive motions.

Governing reports that about 350,000 employees nationally do these jobs. But it’s also a segment that’s on the decline, dropping 30% over the decade.

7. Chief executives

CEO
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Job decline over past decade: 35%

It’s tough to go a day without seeing a chief executive in the news for something — good or bad. So, it may seem surprising that these jobs are down.

However, Governing reports that when looking at all organizations and industries, there are now 106,000 fewer chief executives than there were a decade ago.

6. Order clerks

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Job decline over past decade: 36%

Ever been tempted to buy anything from the Home Shopping Network? If you’ve done so, you’ve supported the career of an order clerk. Those are the workers who receive and process your order, keep you informed as it’s handled, and address any complaints.

Order clerk is a position in decline thanks to automation and the rise of e-commerce. In short, computers are now taking those orders and sending them on their way. Just 159,000 order clerks were employed in 2018, down from nearly 250,000 a decade ago.

5. Data entry keyers

Data entry on a laptop
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Job decline over past decade: 36%

Data entry workers type information into computers, but they also may be asked to verify the data as well as prepare it for printing. Governing notes that while there are still 175,000 jobs classified under this heading nationwide, both this occupation and a related job classification — word processors and typists — are shrinking.

4. Bill and account collectors

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Job decline over past decade: 39%

The job of a debt collector was never easy, but it’s become even harder in recent years. Online billing and phone payment systems have cut into this field.

Elle Gusman, the founder of a Minnesota-based company in this area of work called Direct Recovery Services, recently told The Washington Post that millennials especially like to pay bills online — and often receive automated reminders that they need to do so.

3. Postal Service mail sorters, processors and machine operators

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Job decline over past decade: 44%

Much of what Americans once received via printed mail has shifted to electronic distribution, from online bill pay to party invitations.

As a result, over the past 10 years, the number of jobs for mail sorters, processors and machine operators dropped by more than 82,000. Distribution facilities have suffered the most.

2. File clerks

Organizing filing cabinet
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Job decline over past decade: 46%

Just 110,000 file clerks were employed nationwide last year, Governing reports, a decline of nearly half from 10 years ago.

You’ll understand why if you’ve received a note from a doctor’s office lately urging you to sign up for their electronic records portal. As everything from schools to stores become more and more automated, records are shifting from paper to electronic.

1. Telemarketers

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Job decline over past decade: 52%

Cuts in the telemarketing area were the steepest of any larger occupation reviewed over the decade, Governing reports.

It’s easy to see why. Since 2003, Americans have been able to sign up for the Do Not Call Registry, blocking telemarketers from calling them. And smartphones that show who is calling make it easy for those being called to simply not answer unfamiliar numbers.

Does anything surprise you about this list? Let us know in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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