10 Jobs That Might Have to Take a Pay or Earnings Cut

Manufacturing workers at their jobs in an assembly plant

Manufacturing jobs are struggling. | Carl Court/Getty Images

We have jobs to pay the bills. Some of us are fortunate enough to have jobs that allow for exploration and indulgence in certain passions or to push the boundaries of technology and innovation. But by and large, people go to work because they have to.

As the modern economy churns and turns, some jobs simply become redundant or less valuable. That can happen for a number of reasons, ranging from automation to an influx of cheaper labor. When it does happen, though, wages drop as the labor market become saturated. When there are more people with similar skill sets as you, odds are there are people out there who are willing to do the same job for less pay.

That’s when you either take a pay cut or lose your job entirely. There are a lot of factors at play, but at the very core of it is a supply-demand dynamic.

As of right now, if you’re a software engineer this is good news. If you’re in manufacturing? It’s not — and as you’ll see on the following pages, manufacturing specifically is a segment of the economy that is being hit very, very hard by globalization and automation.

Which jobs are experiencing negative wage growth or at least a very bleak outlook? Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are 10 you’ll either want to avoid or get out of as soon as possible.

1. Apparel manufacturing

A Chinese worker in a shoe factory

Apparel manufacturing is being outsourced. | China Photos/Getty Images

If you’ve noticed that just about all of your clothing is made in Asia or Central America, there’s a reason for that: cheap labor. Apparel manufacturing in the United States is on a steep decline, with wages dropping too for those still in the industry. This is why clothing that is made in America tends to be much more expensive than other options.

2. Tobacco production

A worker harvests Burley tobacco grown by Tucker Farms

A worker harvests tobacco. | Luke Sharrett/Getty Images

The BLS labels this as “tobacco manufacturing,” and it’s another area in the manufacturing and production sector that is seeing jobs disappear and wages go down. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that demand for tobacco is dropping significantly as smoking becomes less and less common.

3. Postal service

USPS trucks in a lot

The USPS has been struggling in recent years. | Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

Jobs with the postal service aren’t what they used to be, and there are a number of reasons that USPS has been experiencing trouble for several years now. It’s been shedding jobs and funding, and it’s one area in which wages aren’t exactly on the up and up — if you were considering trying to get a job there.

4. Communication equipment manufacturing

Back of the Apple iPhone is seen as the device is displayed at Macworld

This is another job that’s being outsourced. | David Paul Morris/Getty Images

This is a pretty broad category, but it’s essentially referring to things like phones, computers, tablets — really any type of device or gadget that we use to communicate. As most people know, almost all of these things are made in other countries to take advantage of cheaper labor costs, and to pass those savings on to American shoppers.

5. Publishing

Two men reading a newspaper together, as if that's normal

Publishing is a struggling industry. | George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

The digital age has made it tough for traditional publishing companies to survive. Some are, but they’re not printing money like they used to. Jobs are scarcer, and they don’t pay nearly as much as they did in the glory days of publishing.

6. Textile production

A factory worker assembling products

Here’s another job that’s fallen victim to outsourcing for cheap labor. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

“Textile production” is another incredibly vague category, but it’s another area in which we’re seeing jobs either replaced with cheaper foreign labor or automation.

7. A/V equipment manufacturing

Workers assemble goods at a Hong Kong-China joint-venture factory

Workers assemble goods. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Audio and video equipment, such as communication equipment, is almost exclusively produced in foreign markets. Again, it’s to take advantage of cheap labor. This includes things, such as your TV, cameras, stereos, etc.

8. Glass manufacturing

Glassware on a production line

Jobs are dwindling. | Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Here’s an industry you probably haven’t given much thought to: glass production. Glass is everywhere, but you don’t often think about who is producing it or where. Well, it’s an industry that is seeing some serious contraction in the U.S., and because of that the jobs within aren’t paying very well.

9. Paper production

A Chinese worker producing paper from pulp

A worker produces paper from pulp. | China Photos/Getty Images

You may not know much about the paper industry other than what you’ve learned from those Dunder Mifflinites on The Office, but as far as production of paper goes it’s rough out there for workers. Paper mills are contracting, and workers are seeing wages stagnate.

10. Miscellaneous manufacturing

 A worker builds an engine in a Ford factory

A worker builds an engine in a Ford factory. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Our final installment is as broad as it gets. The BLS includes “miscellaneous manufacturing” among its “most rapidly declining wage and salary” list. That may or may not include many of the aforementioned industries, but includes many others as well. The point is manufacturing, a former backbone of the American economy, is on the outs. If you’re hoping to make big money, you’ll need to do it in another way.

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