Some Surprising Occupations That Are Shrinking

Hunting for jobs is still tough these days, no matter how low the unemployment rate has dropped. Selectivity is the name of the game for employers. And if you are a job seeker sending out hundreds of resumes, you know that the labor market recovery is still uneven.

Indeed, South Mountain Economics has crunched the numbers, and discovered that some key occupations are actually shrinking. For example, employment in healthcare support occupations such as nursing aides and medical assistants is down by 1% over the past year, as hospitals cuts costs. Education, training and library jobs are down by 0.3%, as state and local governments tighten their belts. And surprisingly, the BLS is reporting that architecture and engineering jobs are down by 1.1% over the past year, though it is likely that some categories of engineers are growing. South Mountain Economics will do further analysis on these shrinking occupations to understand the underlying dynamics.

Meanwhile, jobseekers should know that some occupations are growing like gangbusters. Computer and mathematical occupations are up by 7.6%, or 297 thousand jobs, propelled by the shift to the data-driven economy. Construction and extraction occupations are up by 4.9%, or 353 thousand jobs, driven by the revival of the housing market and by the energy revolution. And healthcare practitioner and technical occupations are up by 3.8%, or 309 thousand jobs.

A full list of growing and shrinking occupations can be found here.



The End of the Protective Service Boom?

Emerging Occupation News, July 30, 2013

When Americans say they want more security these days, they mean data security or financial security, not security guards. That’s why the decades-long growth of “protective service” occupations may finally be coming to an end.

According to data from the BLS, the number of Americans working in “protective service” occupations rose by 28% from 2000 to 2010, an astonishing performance considering that overall employment rose by only 2% over this period.

Protective service occupations include police, firefighters, correctional officers, fish and game wardens, private detectives, security guards, and crossing guards (yes, crossing guards, all sixty thousand of them). Note that protective service workers are in both the public and and private sectors. So, for example, guards at privately-run prisons would be in the protective service occupations.


As this chart shows, the boom in protective service occupations finally started to tail off just as the rest of the economy has been recovering. Since 2010 protective service employment has fallen at a slow but steady rate.

Part of this downward trends comes from the fiscal squeeze at the state and local level. With less funds, it’s harder to hire police and firefighters. The correctional boom may finally have run its course as well, with the number of prisoners dropping for the third straight year.

But the bigger picture is that Americans may be deciding that other worries are more important than the threats of physical crime and physical terrorism. We anticipate that trend continuing–the dangers in the cyber world are going to take more attention from now on. For a company, it’s annoying to have your building broken into, but it’s potentially disastrous to have your data hacked.