By the year 2018, the manufacturing industry will lose 1.2 million more jobs, the mining and oil/gas extraction industry will lose another 104,000 jobs and even the utility companies will see 59,000 job losses according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
As any nation's economy grows and progresses, the loss of older industries and professions will be a cause of hardship for many. And many of those professions lost will be middle-class jobs. These middle-class professions -- in order from smallest to largest in percentage rate of decline -- may soon face the fate of the milk man, the telegraph operator, the stagecoach driver and the switchboard operator, joining them in obsolete-job heaven.
1. Desktop Publishers
Desktop publishers use computers to put together pictures and text to make brochures, books, calendars, newsletters and newspapers. Learning basic desktop publishing skills, like Microsoft (NYSE: MSFT) PowerPoint, is now a regular job function, causing the demand for desktop publishers to drop dramatically. Only 20,400 desktop publishers are expected to remain employed in 2018.
Median Salary: $36,600
Projected Job Losses by 2018: 5,900
Percentage Decline by 2018: 23%
2. Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers are responsible for drawing and constructing fabric patterns and layouts. But advancements in textile manufacturing technology have allowed fewer workers to produce greater output of fabrics and fabric patterns -- making productivity the job killer for this occupation as well. Competition from foreign textile manufacturers, who can produce textiles more cheaply and efficiently, has made textile manufacturing one of the fastest declining industries in the U.S. Expect wages to decline by a whopping 48% in this industry and the number of patternmakers dwindling to a mere 6,000 in the next few years.
Median Salary: $38,970
Projected Job Losses by 2018: 2,200
Percentage Decline by 2018: 27%
3. Wellhead Pumpers
Wellhead pumpers ensure that oil or gas is properly extracted from fields using pumps and auxiliary equipment. Two main factors are causing this career to quickly vanish:
Only 13,300 wellhead pumpers will be pumping oil by 2018.
Median Salary: $40,640
Projected Job Losses by 2018: 5,300
Percentage Decline by 2018: 28
4. Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors and Processing Machine Operators
The workers who prepare the mail for distribution throughout our postal system may become more obsolete in the future. Automated equipment that quickly processes mail will greatly reduce the need for them in the coming years. Further dampening the demand for these workers, companies are increasingly taking advantage of postage rate discounts by pre-sorting mail before it arrives at the post office. Nearly one-third of the current Postal Mail Sorters, Processors, and PM Operators in today's work force will not be working in that profession by 2018.
Median Salary: $50,020
Projected Job Losses by 2018: 54,500
Percentage Decline by 2018: 30%
5. Semiconductor Processors
This position has the fastest rate of decline on our list, but not for the reasons you might expect. Because a processing chip's success depends on how fast and powerful it is, the semiconductor components must be built smaller and smaller in order for chips to send data more quickly. Today's processing chips, such as the Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) Core i Processors, have semiconductors that are nanometers (one millionth of a millimeter) in size, which is perfect for finely-tuned machines to assemble but far too small for any human to interact with during production. In addition, dust and other particles that we carry on our skin can interfere with and ruin the micro-sized components during production, so machines are better suited for this line of work. One in three semiconductor processors will be obsolete by 2018.
Median Salary: $32,230
Projected Job Losses by 2018: 10,000
Percentage Decline by 2018: 32%
By Christian Hudspeth, InvestingAnswers