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The Fastest-Disappearing Job in Each State – 2020 Edition


The job market is constantly changing. Jobs in a certain field and geographic area may be abundant one decade only to experience a sharp decline the next. This can be because of many factors, including migration patterns and technological advances, that eliminate positions and industries from parts of the country. That can make it more difficult for workers to earn and save money. With those shifts in mind, SmartAsset decided to find the fastest-disappearing job in each state.

To do so, we analyzed data for 2015 and 2019 (the latest year available) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our findings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Telephone operators in Utah faced the steepest drop. The biggest single decrease in the study was in Utah, where the number of telephone operators dropped by more than 95% over the five-year period from 2015 through 2019.
  • The number of music directors and composers dwindled in a number of states. The most common occupation to see declines was that of music directors and composers – within the industry of arts, design, entertainment and media – in five states: California, Indiana, Kansas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
  • Earnings are rising even though workers are being cut. According to earnings data from the BLS (which is available for 46 states and the District of Columbia), the average annual wage for the fastest-disappearing job fell in only four places: Hawaii, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Washington State.

Office and Administrative Support Occupations

Office and administrative support occupations is the hardest hit industry in 11 states – Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia – as well as in the District of Columbia. The fastest-disappearing jobs in these states include telephone operators, word processors & typists, proofreaders & copy markers, statistical assistants and procurement clerks. The biggest drop in this industry category came in Utah, where the number of telephone operators decreased by more than 95% in the five-year period from 2015 through 2019 – also the largest drop in the entire study. It is important to note that none of these jobs (though full earnings data was not available for word processors and typists in Mississippi) saw a decrease in average earnings in that period. In Georgia, though the number of statistical assistant jobs fell by nearly 89%, the average earnings actually increased by more than 83%, from $28,010 to $51,400. This was the largest increase in salary for any of the jobs in this study.

Production Occupations

The fastest-disappearing jobs in eight states – Alabama, Arizona, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas – fall within the industry category of production occupations. Some of the individual occupations represented here include dental laboratory technicians in Arizona (61% decrease); painting, coating & decorating workers in Pennsylvania (74% decrease) and textile bleaching & dyeing machine operators & tenders in Alabama (75% decrease). The fastest-shrinking job in this industry category is gas plant operators in Maryland, where the number of employees in the occupation decreased by about 80% in the five-year period from 2015 through 2019.

Arts, Design, Sports and Media Occupations

There are six states whose fastest-shrinking jobs fall into the industry category of arts, design, sports and media occupations: California, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin. The fastest-disappearing job in five of these states is that of music directors and composers, with declines in the number of employees ranging from 56% in Virginia to almost 83% in Wisconsin. In Minnesota, the sixth state mentioned above, the fastest-disappearing job was that of set and exhibit designers, with a drop in the number of employees exceeding 70% in the five years from 2015 through 2019. Average earnings for set and exhibit designers in Minnesota increased during this time, however – albeit marginally – from $55,780 in 2015 to $56,540 in 2019.

Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

BLS data shows that five states claim the transportation and material moving occupations industry as their hardest hit industry in terms of fastest-disappearing jobs. These states are Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington. Some of the jobs most affected are motorboat operators in Florida and conveyor operators & tenders in New Jersey. We see the largest decline in Washington State, where the number of non-emergency ambulance drivers and attendants fell by nearly 95% in the five years from 2015 through 2019. Washington State was also one of the few states to see a drop in salary for these workers over this time period, a decrease of 5.49%.

Other Jobs

There are a number of other jobs whose workforces shrank rapidly in recent years. Some of these include:

  • Boilermakers in Oregon (part of the larger industry of construction and extraction occupations), with a 91.30% decrease in the number of workers from 2015 through 2019.
  • Nuclear engineers in Nebraska (part of the larger industry of architecture and engineering occupations), which saw a shrinkage in its workforce of 85.71% over the same five years.
  • Legislators in both Rhode Island and Tennessee (part of the larger industry of management occupations). The five-year decreases here were 64.71% and 73.68%, respectively.

The largest five-year decrease in average earnings for a state’s fastest-disappearing job was in Hawaii, where religious activities and education directors saw a salary decrease of 10.95%.

Data and Methodology

To find the fastest-disappearing occupation for each state and Washington, D.C., we looked at employment data from 2015 and compared it to 2019. We filtered out any occupation for which the standard error for the estimated number of people employed in the occupation was greater than 20. We also filtered out any occupation with “other” in the title. To rank the occupations, we considered the percentage change in people employed in each occupation during this five-year period.

All data, including earnings data, comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupation Employment Statistics.

Tips for Managing Your Money

  • Reassess your budget if possible. One of the best ways to prepare for the unknown is by having an emergency fund. Though financial advisors typically recommend you should have savings that can cover at least three months’ worth of expenses, six months’ worth may be a better figure to shoot for during a recession. Revisiting your budget can help you make the most of your salary and cover all your bases while still making sure you are saving for the future.
  • When considering workplace perks, look for a retirement savings plan. If your job offers a workplace retirement savings plan like a 401(k), make sure you take advantage of it. This is often the best way to save for retirement.
  • Professional advice. No matter what is happening with your job, a financial advisor can help you make the most of your money. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be connected with local advisors get started now.

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