The nation’s unemployment rate, which was 4.1 percent in February, hit a 17-year low back in October 2017 and has remained there. The future looks even brighter for those working as wind turbine technicians, physical therapists and nurse practitioners, as the renewable energy sector expands and aging Americans need more help maintaining and managing their health.
While not quite extinct yet, there are other industries that are headed for the endangered species list. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show postal clerks, plastics makers, textile manufacturers and others whose jobs are being exported or taken over by technology will have far fewer workers by 2026.
These 10 specific occupations and occupational groups are projected by the BLS to lose the most workers between 2016 and 2026. Some job titles are listed individually, while job losses for related jobs in the same “minor group,” according to the Bureau’s Standard Occupational Classification system, have been combined.
Click through to see the list of jobs on the chopping block and prepare by learning which jobs are growing.
Parking Enforcement Workers
These workers generally keep to an assigned public parking lot or radius of city streets, looking for parking violators and illegally parked vehicles, and issuing tickets. They sometimes patrol on foot, but often times are assigned a vehicle for use.
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Expected Job Loss by 2026: 3,300
New technology is making it easier than ever to pay for parking and more likely that people will not be needed for certain jobs. Some pilot projects are even employing smart meters that allow drivers to check how much time is left on a meter from anywhere using a smartphone, and using mobile payment methods like Apple Pay or Visa Checkout to add additional minutes. Eventually, this will mean fewer meter readers to issue parking tickets, if not fewer parking tickets in general. Some prognosticators predict meters will eventually be able to detect procrastinating parkers and issue tickets electronically.
These folks perform work involved in developing and processing photos from film or digital media. If they’re really well-versed, they might edit negatives and prints as well. If you’re in this career, you might want to think about making some money moves before potentially losing your job.
Expected Job Loss by 2026: 4,900
Last year Manny Almeida, president of Fujifilm’s imaging division in North America, told TIME Magazine that camera film sales logged only 2 percent of the company’s 2002 peak of 960 million rolls. Numbers like that could be a sign you’re at a dead-end job. Although film sales are making something of a comeback, that retro resurgence is being driven largely by professional photographers. What’s more, even digital camera sales are on the decline, since a growing number of everyday shutterbugs are satisfied with smartphone shots, leaving less work for those who develop and process photos.
Prepress Technicians and Workers
When a designer or client submits proof text and images, a prepress technician takes over. He or she is in charge of formatting and proofing the work so that the finished pages can be printed. The job usually includes digital and phototypesetting, and sometimes involves operating laser plate-making equipment.
You learn the tricks of the trade via vocational school more often than not. They include in-depth knowledge of circuit boards, chips, computer hardware and software and math skills.
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Expected Job Loss by 2026: 6,900
Prepress technicians and workers check and format text and images submitted by designers and clients, transforming them into finished pages for printing. Increasingly sophisticated software now allows writers, editors and others to take over those design duties at their desks. And, as with desktop publishers, plummeting print circulations for newspapers and magazines are likely reducing the ranks of prepress workers.
Metal and Plastic Workers
This is a broad group and includes all sorts of metal and plastic workers. These folks set, operate and maintain machines that drill and bore, forge, mill and plane. This group also includes pourers and casters of metal.
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Expected Job Loss by 2026: 11,500
Metal and plastic workers face foreign competition and domestic displacement by computer-controlled machines taking over tasks for many types of production employees. Factors including equipment upgrades and competition from China — the world’s largest steel producer — have slashed employment in the domestic steel industry for decades.
It’s also worth noting many specific jobs in the plastic- and metal-making sector require a high school diploma or equivalent and a fairly short stint of on-the-job training, making the barrier to entry for these jobs low — and training a replacement relatively easy — if new hires don’t cut it. If you’re frequently jumping between jobs, try making your life easier by searching with one of these 11 free job-hunting apps.
Telephone and Switchboard Operators
It may sound like something out of an old movie, but these workers are certainly still around. They may no longer manually insert cords into jacks on a giant board, but they still relay incoming, outgoing and interoffice phone calls, sometimes giving the person calling additional information.
Expected Job Loss by 2026: 20,500
A recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed more than half of all American adults live in a household without a landline telephone. Businesses are increasingly following suit, cutting the cord in favor of wireless communication services and voice-over-internet options. As a result, this occupational group, which includes answering service employees, is increasingly obsolete thanks to smartphones, voicemail and other more modern modes of communication.
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Cashiers process payments for goods and services. They primarily work behind the counter or at a checkout stand at grocery stores (25 percent of cashiers work at one) but can be found at gas stations, pharmacies, drug stores and other places.
There are no education requirements to be a cashier.
Expected Job Loss by 2026: 30,600
Advances in technology, such as self-service checkout stands in retail stores and increasing online sales, will continue to limit the need for cashiers.
Bank tellers are the people behind the glass at banks who process all your transactions. They cash checks, deposit money, collect loan payments and more.
The job typically requires only a high school diploma and about one month of on-the-job training from a senior teller.
Expected Job Loss by 2026: 41,800
Employment for tellers is set to decline about 8 percent between 2016 and 2026, with online banking and automated technology continuing to replace most of their duties. The BLS said, “The rise of online and mobile banking allows customers to handle many transactions traditionally performed by tellers, such as depositing checks. As more people use these tools, fewer bank customers will visit the teller window.”
Technology is to blame all around as more mobile banking options not only decrease the need for more bank branches — and in turn, tellers — but fewer tellers are now needed per branch. Video kiosks that let customers talk to tellers via webcams are popping up more and more at ATMs, which means one teller can service a greater number of people.
So-called “enhanced ATMs” are also starting to appear. They do many of the jobs done today by tellers including detecting counterfeit currency and issuing new debit cards to customers.
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Postal Service Workers
These employees are on the front lines handling the mail. They sort and process it, as well as operate the machines that process it. This group also includes those who deliver the mail home-to-home.
Expected Job Loss by 2026: 65,300
With 153.9 billion pieces of mail processed and delivered in 2017, you’d think business was booming and the future of postal service workers would be secure. Not so, says the BLS.
As electronic bill pay and email become increasingly common and popular to save time and postage, that means a decline in postal service clerk jobs.
Further, mail carriers are losing out to automated systems that can read text and auto-sort, forward and process mail. With the time saved on sorting mail, carriers are given longer routes which means fewer carriers are needed to cover a certain radius.
These workers are a part of a team that is responsible for the assembly of a product — this can mean the whole thing or a single component. Each member of the team is required to perform all the tasks of the team so that there are no weak links in the chain, and they can be rotated around as needed.
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Expected Job Loss by 2026: 145,000
The decline in assembler roles is attributed, in general, to companies becoming more efficient, producing more with fewer workers. Further, they are using improved tools, processes, and in some cases, robotics that can perform more complex and delicate work than a human worker could, and they do so more efficiently.
When coupled with their common counterpart — fabricators — the number of jobs lost in this industry by 2026 actually jumps to 261,900. The BLS warns of dark days ahead due not only to robotics but to three-dimensional printing: “Advances in three-dimensional printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has the potential to reshape the entire manufacturing sector in the future. Entire parts or even vehicles might be produced in a single build that would require very little assembly or fabrication by hand. This technology is still emerging though, and may not immediately affect the demand for these workers within the next 10 years.”
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
This group consists of executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants, legal secretaries and all other secretaries and administrative assistants that don’t fall in the aforementioned categories.
Expected Job Loss by 2026: 321,200
According to the BLS, employment of those in the “executive” tier is expected to decline 17 percent from 2016 to 2026 because one secretary now often supports multiple managers in an organization, working cross-departmentally. Additionally, many managers are taking it upon themselves to perform the functions that their executive secretaries did previously — drafting emails and scheduling their own flights, for instance.
Legal secretaries are in danger of decline primarily because paralegals and legal assistants now have technology at their disposal that prepares and files documents — a job once done by secretaries. They’ll see a 19 percent decline.
On a positive note, there is one category of secretary that will see more job opportunities in this decade (not included in these numbers), and that is medical secretaries The BLS attributes this to aging baby boomers needing more medical care as they enter into retirement and “medical secretaries will be needed to handle administrative tasks related to billing and insurance processing.” The medical secretaries will see a 19 percent increase. So if you’ve got your eye on staying in this field, a shift to a medical specialty may be the ticket.