20 Top Jobs That Have Almost Disappeared in 20 Years
The shifts in policy and technology that have occurred since 2000 have changed the demographics of the workforce, and some jobs that were once common are now very rare.
Census data and other large surveys of employment stats show that these 20 specialised jobs, which employed hundreds of thousands in 2000, have shrunk dramatically since then:
20. Publishing (except newspaper and digital publishing) – 37% fewer jobs
With more and more people getting news, information, and entertainment from digital sources, non-digital publishers have had to streamline, focusing on the kind of things you can really only get from a book.
19. Toys, amusement, and sporting-goods manufacturing – 38% fewer jobs
Today's kids have the whole world at their fingertips through the magic of digital devices – and many manufacturing jobs for major companies have been outsourced to countries with longer workdays and fewer regulations.
18. Electrical-goods wholesalers – 39% fewer jobs
Consumer electronics has become an industry dominated by a few power players, most of whom get their components from cheap sources overseas.
17. Petroleum and petroleum-products wholesalers – 39% fewer jobs
As the effects of a century of fossil-fuel pollution become apparent, consumer demand is shifting toward cleaner materials. And petroleum was never a renewable resource to begin with.
16. Wired telecommunications carriers – 39% fewer jobs
With so many people "cord-cutting" by switching to cheaper TV options like streaming and opting to go without a landline phone, cable and similar services may be going the way of the telegraph.
15. Gift, novelty, and souvenir shops – 41% fewer jobs
Millennials, it's been reported, take fewer holidays – and buy less on the holidays they do take. This is just one of the cultural shifts that may explain this trend.
14. Metal forging and stamping – 42% fewer jobs
This is yet another manufacturing sector affected by more automation and outsourcing – although the specialised skills these jobs require may be in demand elsewhere.
13. Retail florists – 43% fewer jobs
The floral industry has gone heavily digital, with less storefront business. That means fewer employees needed to operate the shop.
12. Commercial and service-industry machinery manufacturing – 46% fewer jobs
Virtually all manufacturing has streamlined to employ fewer people, but with more and more commerce taking place online, this specialized industry has experienced an especially major shift.
11. Cut-and-sew apparel manufacturing – 47% fewer jobs
It's not your imagination – clothing retailers (even high-end ones) are selling more quickly mass-produced pieces, and hiring fewer actual craftspeople, than ever before.
10. Communications, audio, and video equipment manufacturing – 49% fewer jobs
Yet another example of how much the landscape of manufacturing has changed.
9. Fabric mills – 50% fewer jobs
Cost-cutting in garment industry supply chains has been ruthless, with manufacturers often moving to impoverished countries to take advantage of cheap labour and a lack of regulatory enforcement.
8. Paper and paper-product wholesalers – 51% fewer jobs
The advent of the paperless office, online newspapers, and e-books is good news for the climate, but not so great for the paper industry.
7. Foundries – 53% fewer jobs
Job losses in foundries – factories that produce metal castings – are partly down to the advent of labour-saving machinery, but it’s also another industry that has moved much of its production abroad to cut costs.
6. Newspaper publishers – 60% fewer jobs
It’s not just the move to online newspapers that has led to job losses here. Many younger people prefer to get their news from online-only media and eschew traditional newspapers altogether.
5. Textile product mills – 62% fewer jobs
The manufacture of products like fabric, yarn, and thread has largely gone abroad along with the garment industry.
4. Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing – 66% fewer jobs
This very surprising entry in the list comes despite a massive increase in domestic output. As in other industries, jobs here have been hit by automation, the increased focus on skilled labour, and cheaper production overseas.
3. Aerospace product and parts manufacturing – 71% fewer jobs
COVID has played a big role in pushing aerospace to third place on the list. The industry is expected to recover from the pandemic by 2024, but faces the longer-term challenge of creating zero-emissions aircraft.
2. Music stores – 72% fewer jobs
In 2000, we were still exchanging mixtapes and listening to them until they s o u n d e d l i k e t h i s. Now digital music reigns supreme, and the nostalgic appeal of listening to music on a physical object that could wear out has led to the creation of lofi.
1. Video-tape and DVD rental – 90% fewer jobs
No surprise here whatsoever. Netflix, which started out as a postal DVD rental company itself, has not so much bitten as completely devoured the hand that fed it.