7 jobs that are quickly disappearing in the US

Susanna Kahr

Time and time again we find ourselves talking about the future of work. The new horizons of the job market, AI, robots, and futuristic offices. But what about those jobs that fall by the wayside and get left behind in the wake of progress? The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been updating its list of jobs that are disappearing for a while now, and they update the list regularly to give job seekers a look at how certain industries are doing. Industries in the US, like coal and steel, are hiring less and less and other careers, such as data entry keyers, postmasters, and legal secretaries, are disappearing as well thanks to increased automation and other technology. Here’s a list of 7 jobs that are disappearing the fastest in the US.

Legal secretaries

Legal secretaries assist with legal research, perform a number of secretarial duties and prepare legal papers and correspondence, such as summonses, complaints, motions, and subpoenas. With law school graduates struggling to find work because of an oversupply of attorneys, becoming a legal secretary has become a popular choice. But legal assistants who support lawyers are finding less need for their services thanks to AI, automation and other technology. A recent report from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that law firms are using software to read and review contracts, and a free “chatbot lawyer” called DoNotPay is even helping drivers in both New York and London to beat parking tickets. It’s no wonder then, that the BLS predicts that there will be 19% less legal secretaries by 2026. 


“They call Legal Secretaries “Practice Assistants” which sounds a bit like a downgrade. But there are opportunities for monetary award and recognition for doing a good job.” – anonymous employer review at McGuirewoods LLP


Postmasters and mail superintendents

Postmasters are responsible for handling our mail. They prepare everything that comes in and goes out, they examine, sort, and route mail as well as load, operate, and occasionally adjust and repair mail processing, sorting, and canceling machinery and generally make sure that everything within the postal service works smoothly. But when was the last time you got a letter? With so many of us opting to pay our bills online these days and with the rise of emails and WhatsApp, it’s no wonder the postmaster job is disappearing. Add to that the combination of automated sorting systems, cluster mailboxes and tight budgets that are coming into the postal service and it’s easy to see why the BLS predicts that there will be 20.9% less postmasters by 2026. 


“When I started working for the post office in 1979, I loved my job…in the last 10 years things have changed drastically.” – anonymous employer review at the U.S. Postal Service 


Coil winders, tapers, and finishers

Coil winders, tapers and finishers assist in the production of electric and electronic products by winding the wire coils of electrical components like resistors, transformers, generators, and electric motors. By 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that there will 20.7% fewer coil winders, tapers and finishers due to improved processes, tools, and increased automation. It’s not just coil winders, tapers and finishers whose jobs are declining, it’s other electromechanical equipment assemblers too. They are expected to decrease by nearly 10,000, that’s a 21% decrease. That being said, the states with the highest level of employment within the field are Texas, California, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Minnesota.


“Supervisors are helpful and very friendly, great group of experienced employees.” – anonymous employer review at Red Spot Paint & Varnish


Data Entry keyers

Data Entry keyers input information into electronic or digital system using a keyboard or photo composing perforator, they also verify data and prepare materials for printing. Due to the nature of their job, many employers are looking to outsource data entry jobs, automate them, or reassign to more experienced employees, meaning less and less workers will be needed in this field. According to the BLS, there will be a 21.2% reduction in Data Entry keyers in the next 7 years. 


Looking for a job as a Data Entry Keyer? Lionbridge is rated as a good company among Data Specialists!


Parking-enforcement workers

We all know the dreaded parking enforcement workers. They patrol an assigned parking lot or city street, seemingly itching to issue tickets or citations to cars parked illegally or those that have overstayed their time limit. You might be happy to hear that the BLS predicts that there will be 35.3% less parking enforcement workers on the streets by 2026, but that doesn’t mean drivers are going to escape with fewer tickets, unfortunately. With technology like automatic license plate recognition, virtual permits and gateless parking, filling the gap, it’s unlikely that there will be any let-up with regards to parking tickets. 


“Parking enforcement officers and tow truck operators make the agency work.” – anonymous employer review at Philadelphia Parking Authority


Respiratory therapy technicians

Respiratory therapy technicians look after patients with breathing problems such as emphysema and asthma and conduct diagnostic testing. They measure lung capacity and analyze blood samples using a blood gas analyzer and consult with physicians to develop and implement a treatment plan for the patient. They also perform physiotherapy and other treatments and teach patients to use medications. According to the BLS, though, they come second on the list of disappearing jobs. The number of respiratory therapy technicians has been dropping since 2004 and has decreased by 43.90% since then. The BLS expects that this will continue to happen and that there will be a 56% decline by 2026, this is also due to new technology, cuts and reallocation of the duties associated with this job to other employees.


“My experience as a field respiratory therapist is a good one. Never had any major issues.” – anonymous employer review at Advanced Pharmacy Services


Locomotive firers

At the top of the list, is the locomotive firer job. In 2016, there were only 1,200 locomotive firers nationwide and this is expected to fall to just 300, a decline of 78.6% by 2026, according to the BLS. “Locomotive firer” might sound old-fashioned but this job basically involves monitoring locomotive instruments, watching for dragging equipment, obstacles on rights-of-way, and train signals during runs, and relaying traffic signals from yard workers to yard engineers in railroad yards. These are all tasks that are either becoming automated or being handed over to engineers, so this job is likely to become non-existent quite quickly. 


“Job grants you a lot of independence, but takes a lot of your time.” – anonymous employer review at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation 


 

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If you work in any one of these jobs, it might be worth thinking about a career change in the next few years. Here’s our guide to writing a cover letter as a career changer. Otherwise, keep an eye on the reports from the BLS. In the meantime, let us know what your experiences have been like with your current or former employees, by writing an anonymous employer review on our site. Every review helps other jobseekers to find the right job and employer for them so your insights can really make a difference.  

 

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