Last week, we looked at jobs that are expected to have the largest anticipated numerical increase between 2022 and 2032. This week, we are updating jobseekers, students, and career changers on the other side of the coin—job categories that the US Department of Labor (DOL) anticipates losing the greatest number of positions between 2022 and 2032. (2022 is the base year DOL used although we are now in 2023) While the list bears striking similarities to the list we analyzed in October 2021, there are some notable differences. Some of the new jobs on the list suggest that those planning careers for the next decade should consider upskilling now. DOL anticipates higher skilled jobs in accounting and auditing will see growth while lower skilled bookkeeping and related jobs will have the largest declines. The Department expects similar patterns in other industries, too.
The top 20 potential “biggest losers” are below:
Nearly half the jobs are traditional administrative roles.
It should not be surprising for those that have worked in an office during recent years that opportunities for “administrative” or “clerical” positions are expected to decline. We do much of our own word processing and data entry, so fewer organizations rely on secretarial or data entry pool staff. Calendar applications on our phones, computers, and company websites reduce the need for executive secretaries, executive administrative assistants, and general office clerks to make and track appointments. Automated systems track orders, inventory, and maintain the books. So these jobs, once widely available to high school graduates, will be fewer in number, too.
Customer service jobs will also be fewer in number.
Our everyday experience can help us understand why the number of customer service jobs will decline. Our calls to customer service lines are largely filtered by automated systems that try responding to our questions. This probably explains why customer service representative roles are in 4th place on the list of jobs with the largest anticipated declines, while first-line supervisors of support staff—a category that would include those supervisors handling “escalated” calls are in 10th place on the list.
Even customer service jobs in restaurants—waiters and waitresses—appear on the list of jobs anticipated to have the largest declines. During the pandemic, most of us received deliveries from restaurants instead of being served there. A sizable number of us could continue doing the same.
Customer service and clerical roles were jobs my clients at workforce centers with high school diplomas filled. Clients who had college degrees sometimes reported taking these jobs, too, but saw them as interim or temp jobs while they pursued re-employment in their professions.
Fast-food jobs could decline.
We also reported last week that the number of jobs for restaurant cooks are likely to increase. This week’s list, in contrast, shows that DOL anticipates a decline in the number of jobs for fast-food cooks. Fast-food companies are national and global businesses that can take advantage of economies of scale to implement automated and robotic processes. Fine-dining and locally owned neighborhood restaurants do not operate at this large, industrial, scale in many cases.
Retail jobs will also decline in number.
The retail category is another one where our daily experience explains the projected decline. Many of us are now accustomed to shopping for necessities, and even big-ticket items, online. When we do shop at retail stores such as major pharmacies or grocery chains, the store routes us to “self-service checkout,” and may not even have a cashier on duty. No wonder cashiers top the list of jobs that DOL predicts will have the largest decline between 2022 and 2032.
Large stores, such as Wal-Mart have smartphone apps that tell us what aisle our merchandise is in, so we can do our entire purchase without interacting with a team member.
Another kind of retail worker, the bank teller, is also on the list of declining jobs. Think about the last time you saw a teller to complete a transaction. You may not remember because most of us do these transactions at ATM machines, or through smartphone apps.
Significantly, the projected reductions represent a loss of opportunities for jobseekers without college degrees, and those seeking temp work while looking for relevant employment in their field.
We noted that several jobs requiring higher levels of skill appear on the list of positions with the most projected increase, while lower-skilled occupations are on the list of jobs with the largest expected decreases. Bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks, for example, are in 6th place on the declining jobs list, although accountants and auditors are found on the list of job categories with the largest anticipated increases by 2032. Accountants and auditors typically have college degrees and professional certifications while bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks may not need degrees or certifications to qualify for their jobs.
Another interesting contrast is that restaurant cooks are on the list of jobs with the largest anticipated increases, while fast-food cooks are on the list of job categories with the largest anticipated losses. Although cooks do not necessarily need degrees and certifications for their work, cooking for a fine dining establishment probably demands a higher skill level than cooking at fast-food place.
What should you do if your job is on the list?
First, don’t panic! Consider your individual situation. If you work for a small local business that is unlikely to replace its cashiers with self-service point-of-sale terminals you may have nothing to worry about in the immediate future. Similarly, if you work for a small non-profit that still has an administrative and front-desk staff, that may not change either. The best strategy for most of us is to be prepared for change. Get more education or industry training to qualify for hard-to-automate jobs. Prepare a resume and LinkedIn profile even if you believe your position is secure. There will be great career opportunities in the next decade, so be ready to pursue them.