With the cost of a college education escalating faster than inflation, it’s good to know the economy may be providing opportunities for the future that pay well, offer something as close to job security as it gets these days and most don’t require a four year degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the kind of website I can spend hours on because it’s just so interesting. The data there also holds the keys to the future of the labor market, which offers insight into the economy both past and future. Besides statistics of value only to niche markets, like the number of workplace fatalities involving insects, you can find out which jobs are on the increase and which career fields are on the decline.
The data paints a picture of an economy still transitioning to service over manufacturing. That’s not particularly good news but is balanced out by by the projection that employment will grow an average of 11% between now and 2022. They may be service jobs but there will be more of them. Here are five winners and losers over the next 8 years.
Losing – Postal Workers | Gaining – Home Health Aides
The Postal Service will lose as staggering 139,000 jobs over the next eight years due to automation and the steady encroachment of electronic messaging. The downsizing at the Post Office will be more than matched by a demand for Home Health Aides. As Americans live longer and we gray as a nation, the need for flexible help managing medicines and light housekeeping will increase dramatically. Unfortunately the average postal worker makes $53,000 and the average home health aide pulls in just over $19,000. If you can live with the smaller salary it means employment virtually for life.
Losing – Motion Picture Projectionists | Gaining – Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
With film production going the way of buggy whips, digital distribution is quickly replacing distributing movies as 35mm film prints. Paramount has completely stopped film distribution of its movies and that’s bad news for film projectionists at the local theater. Digital showings can be programmed from a central location, so no projectionist needed. Luckily those movie buffs will be able to spend 18 months to two years training as Medical Sonographers and spend their days imaging the inside of patients and trading an $8,000 a year job for one that pays $58,000.
Losing – Data Entry Workers | Gaining – Interpreters and translators
Data entry has been on the decline for a long time, with companies switching to user input. Hardly anyone is using paper forms anymore. But the future is bright for those proficient in a foreign language particularly Chinese, Spanish or French.
Losing – Tree Fallers (lumberjack) | Gaining – Construction (insulation workers)
Lumberjacks are as endangered as some of the woodland creatures in the habitat they share. Tree harvesting is increasingly automated and being taken over by machines that clear entire forests faster than a Santa Ana brush fire. Fortunately they’ll be able to trade that $6,000 a year part-time job for more steady employment applying spray insulation to modern buildings for $28,000 a year. With energy efficiency being one of the keys to our energy future, the jobs belong to those who can figure out how to heat and cool buildings more efficiently.
Losing – Semiconductor Processors | Gaining – Personal Care Assistants
Nothing highlights the continued transition from an economy that makes things to a service economy than the loss of jobs in the semiconductor industry. Between automation and foreign competition, the U.S. is leaving electronics manufacturing almost totally in the hands of countries that don’t always have our best interests at heart. The transition to Personal Care Assistant won’t be a glamorous one but at least the pay is about the same.
Even though it’s depressing to see manufacturing jobs continue to slip away, we should focus on the good news that the number of jobs are going up, wages and salaries are on the increase and the employment picture for the next few years looks really good.