In 10 Careers Gone for Good, Ira Wolfe of Perfect Labor Storm 2.0 looks at the issue of occupation extinction, noting that more than 25%, or over 2 million, of the jobs that were erased from the economy over the past two years are probably gone for good.
He cites an excellent NPR feature on the Jobs of Yesteryear – obsolete occupations. It includes a review of a dozen jobs that no longer exist, including a photo essay and some audio snippets from people who held those jobs. One of our favorites was the job of lector: “Cigar makers in Florida and New York City would sometimes pool their wages to pay a ‘lector’ to read newspapers or political tracts aloud to them while they worked.”
It’s a nostalgic look back, and makes the point. The nature of the work that people do is changing at breakneck speed. Wolfe’s post also includes a chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that looks at some jobs that are currently on their way to extinction.
For those job seekers who find this topic depressing, we would point to Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11, also from BLS, which offers trend information and projections about the shifting landscape in job sectors that are growing and declining. It includes tables listing the occupations with the fastest growth, occupations with the largest numerical growth, and occupations with the largest decline.


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