In some parts of the economy, the job market is slowly picking up, with employers gradually hiring back folks thrown out of work over the last several years. The latest jobs report shows that even though the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent, the economy added 163,000 jobs in July--a middling pace of hiring, but still, the best since February.
Some jobs, however, may never come back, at least not in the numbers that existed before the recession that began in 2007. To determine which jobs are most endangered, I used unpublished government data gathered and analyzed by economic consulting firm EMSI of Moscow, Idaho, to identify the change in the unemployment rate between 2000 and 2011 in hundreds of occupations.
There's a lot of good news in the data. In more than 100 occupations, the unemployment rate is less than 5 percent. Some of the top fields: budget analysts, computer network architects, police detectives, numerous healthcare professions, and many science and engineering specialties. But on the other end of the spreadsheet, the woes of millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans stand out. Here are 10 professions that have declined dramatically since 2000, and may never bounce back:
Telemarketers (unemployment rate: 31.4 percent). Can you say "outsourcing"? Unless you plan to move to India or some other call-center hotspot, you can probably forget about a job in this field.
Helpers, construction trades (27.8 percent). It's no surprise that underskilled job-site factotums can barely find work, given the housing bust and the sharp cutback in building. Many other jobs related to construction are high on the list of disappearing jobs, including some skilled professions such as construction engineers (so I won't repeat them in the list below). Construction will probably pick up gradually, but it could be a decade or more before it hits levels seen during the housing bubble.
Iron and steel workers (25.3 percent). High-tech manufacturing is growing, but many traditional blue-collar jobs have moved overseas for good. (Again, I won't repeat other jobs on the list that are similar.)
Packers and packagers (18.6 percent). Amazon might be thriving, but with many consumers reluctant to spend, a lot of other retailers are cutting back. That affects packaging jobs throughout the entire supply chain. Many other retail jobs are down sharply.
Grounds maintenance workers (16.1 percent). Everybody's cutting costs, including hotels, office parks, and other facilities that employ groundskeepers. Plus, there's precious little construction of new commercial facilities that need maintaining.
Tax preparers (15.9 percent). High unemployment means fewer people filing tax returns.
Restaurant and fast food workers (14.8 percent). Americans are saving money by dining out less. This helps explain why the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is more than 16 percent, since many of the part-time jobs that used to put spending money in kids' pockets are no longer there.
Models, demonstrators, and product promoters (14.6 percent). It's not as glamorous as you might think. This category, which includes a range of professionals who help show off merchandise, is highly competitive, and as vulnerable to budget pressures as any other industry. Median pay for a model is only about $33,000 per year.
Childcare workers (10.4 percent). There aren't fewer kids, but there are fewer working parents. With many two-income families down to one income, it no longer pays to send the kids to day care or hire a nanny.
Travel agents (7.9 percent). The unemployment rate is below the national average, yet this field has shrunk from 142,000 people in 2000 to barely half that today, most of them serving corporate clients. The reasons for the decline are obvious: Websites like Kayak and Expedia have displaced live agents, plus, neither consumers nor travel providers want to pay agents' fees. The good news may be that this is one field where employees have recognized that their field is dying, and found a different line of work.
Rick Newman is the author of Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.
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