These are the 10 fastest shrinking jobs in America

Ever wonder if the industry you are working in or hope to work in will survive the artificial intelligence takeover? We have similar questions at Zippia.

With computer mechanization of jobs taking over many industries, it is no surprise that some industries may have less than pretty job outlooks. Many American industries also are being outsourced and from a cost perspective, it makes sense.

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Why pay $8/hr for a job, when you could pay $2?

But that still leaves the question for many workers: what about me?

While industries such as healthcare, computer technology, and transportation services are projected to grow rapidly, what about mill workers and manufacturing jobs?

At Zippia, we took a look for you to find out which industries in America are projected to shrink the fastest. Here is a brief look at our top 10:

  1. Tobacco Manufacturing
  2. Federal Electric Utilities
  3. Apparel, leather, and allied product manufacturing
  4. Communications equipment manufacturing
  5. Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers
  6. Manufacturing and reproducing magnetic and optical media
  7. Cable and other subscription programming
  8. Logging
  9. Foundries
  10. Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills

Surprised by the results? We aren’t. If you haven’t looked at where most everything comes from recently, you will probably find that China and India are more likely sources than the U.S.

In addition to that, many of the industries on our top 10 list are related to products that are being phased out by newer technology. If you are going to read a book that is super long, why would you prefer a bulky paperback over an e-book version?

TV series popular these days don’t come from local channels, but rather from streaming services. Stranger Things, Outlander, Game of Thrones, and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. All from streaming services, not your typical cable channels.

Interested to take a closer look at our top 10 fastest shrinking industries? Read on to see our list in detail.

How we determined the fastest shrinking jobs

To figure out which industries are dwindling the fastest in America, we headed to the U.S. Department of Labor for data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes projections on labor markets in the U.S., the latest one being the employment projections for 2016-2026.

We then looked at which industries were projected to decline the most rapidly over the next seven years and took their top 10 for our article, “Fastest Shrinking Industries in America.”

If you want to take a closer look at the actual numbers or see what other industries are expected to shrink, check out the full projections.


Although workers in tobacco manufacturing may look upon this projection with worry, a decrease in the tobacco market is actually a great thing for our health. It also shows that public health anti-smoking and smoking cessation campaigns are doing good work.

Perhaps, however, if looked at, the e-cig manufacturing industry is projected to grow rapidly during this period as an alternative to tobacco. Either way, tobacco manufacturing ranks #1 in our top 10 fastest shrinking industries– sorry tobacco farmers.


Number two on our list may come at somewhat of a surprise. You would think that Americans are now using more electricity than ever before, but perhaps it is not that we are using less electricity.

Many of the industries on this list are heavily affected by the reduction of manpower needed to operate the most efficiently. Essentially, many jobs are being replaced by computers. Utility industries may be heavily affected by this change.


In the past, many clothes were made by factory workers laboring over sewing machines. Now, machines are the top-laborers for our clothes. Mechanization and outsourcing have also greatly affected job outlook on this industry.


Remember having to deal with the annoying suction cup to keep your Garmin GPS up and working while you drive? Fortunately for us, smartphones have been a great navigation replacement, causing an unfortunate effect on companies like Garmin.

Radios, HAM radio, and TV broadcasting have also become less important aspects in our lives with podcasts and streaming services readily available. However, internet connections are an aspect of this industry, which is a commodity many people couldn’t live without these days.


Not a huge surprise to find that fewer people are choosing to unfold the Sunday newspaper after breakfast. Why choose a cumbersome large newspaper if you could choose a digital version or just plain Google for the latest updates?


Do you know what an optical disk is? Some people may no longer recognize that an optical disk is actually a CD. This industry specializes in data storage through CDs, hard drives, and magnetic tape.

While some people may choose to still use flash drives, CDs, or external hard drives for storage, many are switching to cloud storage services. This change can be seen if you look at the side of your laptop–see a CD drive? Probably not anymore.


What Millenial still has cable? And if they do, how many of them are actually choosing to pay for it? Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu have completely overhauled this industry without trying too hard.

And if you are paying for cable for the news, why not just install a local antenna for $15 instead and watch local channels for free? Goodbye commercials and the cable/dish industry.


Seen anyone looking like Wolverine from X-Men recently? Didn’t think so. Logging is a shrinking industry because of foreign competition, the move to alternative sources (think plastic and steel), and a decline in newspapers and other printed materials (see number 5 on our list). .


What are foundries? Metal casting of course–remember of your old civilization PC games? Top foundry contractors include the military, gas, automotive manufacturing, and construction. So why is this industry slimming down?

Again, mechanization and foreign competition.


When is the last time you picked up a book or wrote in a journal? For many people, the answer would probably be a long time. E-readers have replaced books, phone apps have replaced journals, and Powerpoint presentations have replaced textbooks.

No wonder pulp, paper, and paperboard mills are in decline.

Wrapping up the jobs you might want to reconsider

Want to help workers in these industries? Try buying physical copies of books (new) or locally-made products.

For some industries, it is only a matter of time before they are completely phased out (we’re talking about you CDs) and replaced by more efficient alternatives.

However, despite these industries dwindling prospects, there are many new job opportunities opening up for technological advancement in these fields. Think engineering and computer scientists.

This article first appeared on Zippia.

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