One of the biggest concerns, especially in modern America, is that we will one day become obsolete. That fear may exist on many levels — we might become personally obsolete to our friends and family, or the United States itself may decline over the coming decades and lose its place as a world superpower. Fading away is a legitimate concern, and has likely led to many a sleepless night.
But in a more economic sense, a lot of people stress about losing their jobs. Given the economic turmoil of the past several years, it’s hard to blame them. We’re living in an age in which technology is progressing so rapidly that we’re having serious conversations about replacing entire professions with automation and artificial intelligences. Hell, even our cars can literally drive themselves these days.
That does not bode well for a lot of people who need to make a living, no matter where they fall on the economic ladder, or what profession they find themselves in. From fast food workers to financial advisors, everyone should be at least somewhat concerned about their futures.
This is simply a feature of the system — a blend of Darwinism and creative destruction at work. Industries and businesses rise and fall. Though it may be entirely natural, it doesn’t do much to soothe the anxieties of workers who fear they may be put out of a job in relatively short order.
Thanks to some new research, we have an idea of which workers should be the most concerned. Perhaps concerned enough to be looking for new gigs, or adopting new skill sets.
CareerCast recently produced its 2015 Most Endangered Jobs report, which is giving us all an even clearer picture of which industries might be in the most trouble. By looking at technological changes, as well as economic changes in consumer demand and societal need, CareerCast has put together a top ten list of professions that are on the proverbial ropes.
By looking at 200 or so professions and their respective growth rates, CareerCast devised a ranking system for its annual report, now in its 27th year. By looking at the jobs that have the lowest growth rates, CareerCast ranked each job — and was able to figure out which jobs are the most endangered.
Without further ado, here are the ten most endangered jobs, with their projected decline:
1. Mail Carrier: -28%
2. Meter Reader: -19%
3. Farmer: -19%
4. Newspaper Reporter: -13%
5. Jeweler: -10%
6. Logging Worker: -9%
7. Flight Attendant: -7%
8. Drill Press Operator: -6%
9. Insurance Underwriter: -6%
10. Seamstress/Tailor: -4%
Now, there are a few takeaways from the list that are readily apparent. First of all, these jobs come from all across the economic spectrum. Lumberjacks and newspaper reporters may have some loose connections (fewer newspapers require fewer trees, and fewer writers, for example). But farmers and flight attendants have drastically different roles in the economy.
Some of these projected job losses are obviously meeting the reaper’s scythe thanks to technology. Farmers, for example, have been getting fewer and farther between as more technology has allowed for fewer farmers to produce more food. The newspaper industry has also been decimated with the advent of the Internet. Far fewer people use the mail these days than they did in decades past, thanks to email, text messaging, and any other number of electronic communications.
It’s also easy to understand why drill press operators, tailors, or meter readers may be on the outs — those are positions that can easily be targeted for replacement by automation.
Perhaps most surprisingly are positions like insurance underwriters and flight attendants. With more people flying than ever before, it would only make sense that we would need more flight attendants, right? Not necessarily, according to CareerCast. “Downsizing in the airline industry and the resulting consolidation of staff means fewer opportunities for flight attendants,” the report reads.
And as for insurance underwriters? “Streamlined processes allow agents to take on the work previously handled by underwriters.”
Of course, the big question is, as these industries and professions become less and less common, where do all of those workers go? Traditionally, they’ve been absorbed by other industries, or even new industries altogether. But the big variable here is technology — if automation sweeps into many different industries at once, what happens?
Time will tell. For now, however, you may want to start eyeing other gigs if you’re a postman.
Follow Sam on Twitter @SliceOfGinger