America's 10 Fastest-Growing (and Fastest-Shrinking) Jobs

The government predicts that healthcare occupations will be booming, while postal service jobs will disappear



If you're looking for guaranteed employment during the next eight years, become a nurse. Really. It's that simple.

Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' released its list of the thirty occupations where it expects the greatest net-job growth through 2020, and registered nurses are the very top. Over the course of this decade, the government expects an additional 711,900 will be hired to help care for the ballooning medical needs of America's aging population --  a 26% increase from 2010. Best yet, the BLS says many parts of the country are experiencing a nurse shortage, meaning talent will come at a premium. 

As you probably expected, the nursing boom is just one piece of a larger trend: The rise of the healthcare sector. Overall, eight of the 30 top-growing occupations are connected with medicine and personal care. From richly paid surgeons to low-wage home health aides, those eight occupations are expected to add more than 3 million jobs The BLS projrects the United States to gain 20.4 million new jobs overall by 2020.

Beyond healthcare, the BLS expects that service industries will continue to add workers at a healthy clip. The biggest trend is that employers will add jobs they can't outsource or hand over to a computer. There will be plenty of opportunities for college graduates in education, accounting, and corporate sales. On the low end of the pay-scale, there will be jobs for retail workers, waiters and waitresses, and janitors.

Who should be bracing for layoffs? Postal workers, for one. The BLS also releases a list of the top 30 shrinking occupations, and it's largely split into two categories. On one hand, there are occupations that are becoming irrelevant thanks to advances in technology. The death of paper mail means less need for mail sorters, carriers, and clerks. Office workers such as typists, switchboard operators, and file clerks are becoming redundant. And advances in farm productivity mean we won't need as many agricultural workers. On the other hand, manufacturing jobs will disappear in industries facing competition from cheap labor overseas, such as apparel, semiconductors, paper goods, and electronics. 

For the most part, the list of occupations expected to see the biggest employment declines is populated by jobs that require a high school diploma or less. But one occupation dominated by college grads does make it on there. That would be reporting. Maybe there'll be a few PR gigs open at all those hospitals. 


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Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

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