A recent post looked at jobs that are expected to have the fastest rate of decline by 2030. There were surprises on that list, such as nuclear energy jobs, so we thought the declining jobs issue merited a second look. We found, after a closer look at DOL statistics, that the Department also measures projected job loss another way. Specifically, their economists look at the number of jobs lost as well as the rate of job loss.
Both the number of jobs expected to be lost, and the rate of job loss are important. Job seekers and those planning careers should look at both lists when considering the future.
There are few surprises on the list below. Many of the jobs are those once called “clerical” or “administrative” in some companies. Among the roles on the list are factory workers, customer service reps, telemarketing reps, and front-line supervisory positions in retail and office work. All of the jobs offered median salaries less than $67,000 per year in 2020. (DOL spreadsheets do not project 2030 salaries)
DOL Job Category
|Employment Change, (thousands) 2020-30||Employment change, (%) 2020-30||Median Annual Wage, 2020|
|Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical, and executive||-156.9||-7.6||$38,850|
|Executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants||-100.6||-18.7||$63,110|
|First-line supervisors of retail sales workers||-90.2||-6.5||$41,580|
|Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators||-84.6||-6.7||$33,550|
|Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers||-68.1||-12.2||$40,460|
|Office clerks, general||-60.4||-2.1||$35,330|
|Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks||-48.1||-3.0||$42,410|
|Shipping, receiving, and inventory clerks||-40.6||-5.5||$35,260|
|Data entry keyers||-35.6||-22.5||$34,440|
|Customer service representatives||-34.5||-1.2||$35,830|
|Legal secretaries and administrative assistants||-33.6||-21.0||$48,980|
|Correctional officers and jailers||-30.0||-7.2||$47,410|
|Postal service mail carriers||-24.7||-7.8||$51,080|
|Buyers and purchasing agents||-23.6||-5.4||$66,690|
|First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers||-22.9||-1.5||$58,450|
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 declining. 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 staff 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.
Telemarketing and customer service jobs will also be losers.
Our everyday experience can help us understand why the number of telemarketing and customer service jobs will decline. We are deluged by “robocalls”—mainly telemarketing calls–that rooms full of people once made. And our calls to customer service lines are largely filtered by automated systems that try responding to our questions before reluctantly agreeing to let us “hold for an operator.” (Okay, maybe an AI cannot be reluctant, but it feels that way, doesn’t it?)
These were jobs my clients at workforce centers that had high school diplomas once filled. Clients with college degrees sometimes reported taking these jobs, too, but saw them as interim or temp jobs while they pursued re-employment in their professions.
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 daily necessities, and even big-ticket items, online as a result of the pandemic. 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.
Large stores, such as Wal-Mart even have smartphone apps that tell us what aisle our merchandise is in, so we can do our entire purchase without ever interacting with a team member.
Another kind of retail worker, the bank teller, is also on the list of jobs with reductions in numbers. Think about the last time you saw a teller to make a deposit, make a withdrawal, or cash a check. You probably don’t remember because most of us do these transactions at ATM machines, or through smartphone apps.
Once again, these reductions represent a loss of opportunities for job seekers without college degrees, and those seeking temp work while looking for relevant employment in their field.
There will also be loses in certain civil service categories.
A more puzzling area could be the loss in civil service jobs including corrections officers, jailers, and postal mail carriers. Arguably, there should be continued demand for these workers given the amount of online ordering we do, and the spike in crime in major cities. Government budgets are constantly shrinking, though, so much of the demand could go unfilled.
Civil service roles have been a route into the middle class for many people in the last century, so it is disappointing to see declines in these opportunities.
What should you do if your job is on the list?
Don’t panic! Consider your individual situation. If you work for a small local business that is not likely 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 if you can. Prepare a resume and LinkedIn profile even if you are at a civil service or corporate job that you perceive to be secure. Talk to friends, family, and co-workers who are in jobs or industries that may interest you in the future. All indications are that there will be great career opportunities in the next decade, so be ready to pursue them.