America’s 25 Dying Industries

An estimated 141.9 million people are working in the United States, up 4.8% from 10 years ago. While the economy as a whole grew at a healthy pace, workforce growth was far from uniform. A handful of industries more than doubled in size, while others shed more than half of their workforce.

Nearly every industry is the U.S. economy is subject to the powerful and often unpredictable forces of the free market. In recent years, globalization and technological advancements have fundamentally changed the U.S. economic landscape. For better or worse, industries that at one time seemed unassailable now appear to be hanging by a thread.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed annual employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2007 to 2016 to identify the fastest dying industries. Industries on this list shed between 42% of workers on the lower end and as many as nearly 90% in the fastest dying industry.

25. Office supplies, except paper, manufacturing
> Employment change 2007-2016: -42.1%
> Employment total: 11,597
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 12.2%
> Avg. annual wage: $47,222

Office supplies manufacturing is one of many industries in the United States negatively affected by the increasing digitization of the workplace. According to a recent survey by cloud management company RightScale, 94% of technology-focused businesses are either planning to adopt cloud technology or are currently using cloud-based applications. The increasing ability to store documents and other data virtually has rendered fax machines and photo copiers less necessary and reduced demand for office supplies manufacturing. Employment in the industry has fallen by 42.1% since 2007, among the most of any sector.

24. Stationery product manufacturing
> Employment change 2007-2016: -42.2%
> Employment total: 18,365
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 19.4%
> Avg. annual wage: $51,272

Stationery product manufacturing is one of many industries hurt by the proliferation of digital communication platforms such as email and electronic invitation websites. As demand for traditional stationary products declined over the past decade, employment in the industry fell from 31,758 U.S. workers to 18,365 — a 42.2% drop. American Greetings — one of the largest greeting card producers in the world — has closed dozens of retail stores in recent years, and after more than 40 years on the stock market, was taken private in 2013. In total, the number of U.S. stationery manufacturing establishments in the United States fell from 645 in 2007 to 488 in 2016.

23. Bookstores and news dealers
> Employment change 2007-2016: -42.9%
> Employment total: 86,521
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 15.6%
> Avg. annual wage: $20,133

Over the past decade, traditional book stores and news dealers have struggled to compete with the rise of digital media and e-commerce retailers. Borders, at one time the second largest bookstore chain the United States, closed all of its locations by 2011. The number of bookstores nationwide fell from 11,728 in 2007 to 7,889 in 2016 — a 32.7% decline. The number of bookstore and newsstand employees fell by 42.9% over the same period, one of the largest declines of any industry.

Amazon has been a major force in the demise of brick-and-mortar bookstores, today accounting for 41% of all book sales. While e-commerce has hurt brick-and-mortar bookstores, the low prices offered by Amazon has led to more book sales overall, creating more opportunities for writers and publishers. In the past 10 years, the number of independent artists and writers in United States rose 3.9%, more than a majority of industries.

22. Securities and commodity exchanges
> Employment change 2007-2016: -42.9%
> Employment total: 4,931
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 7.1%
> Avg. annual wage: $201,266

The securities and commodity exchange industry consists of establishments engaged in facilitating physical or electronic marketplaces for the buying and selling of stocks, stock options, bonds, and commodity contracts. As more open floor exchanges establish online trading platforms, fewer physical securities and commodity exchange locations are necessary. The number of security and commodity exchange establishments in the United States fell from 312 in 2007 to 189 in 2016, a 36.0% drop. Additionally, fewer employees are needed at each location. The number of securities and commodity exchange workers fell by 42.9% over the past 10 years, more than nearly any other industry.

21. Sound recording studios
> Employment change 2007-2016: -42.9%
> Employment total: 4,657
> Wage growth 2007-2016: 10.5%
> Avg. annual wage: $52,679

Musical production practices have evolved with technology technology since the invention of sound recording in the 19th century. In recent years, advances in sound mixing technology have democratized the production and distribution of music, reducing the need for professional recording studios for many artists.

Sound City Studios, a recording studio in Los Angeles notable for its history with major musical acts such as Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and Nirvana, closed its commercial operations in 2011. In total, the number of recording studios in the United States fell from 1,700 establishments in 2007 to 1,438 in 2016 — a 15.4% drop. Employment in the industry fell by 42.9% over the same period, one of the largest declines of any sector.

Join the conversation. Unlike most websites, we value your opinion. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.