Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WSJ.com - Even in a Recovery, Some Jobs Won't Return

"Even when the U.S. labor market finally starts adding more workers than it loses, many of the unemployed will find that the types of jobs they once had simply don't exist anymore." So says, Justin Lahart in an article for the Wall Street Journal today.

Lahart continues that some of the "lost jobs will come back. But some are gone forever, going the way of typewriter repairmen and streetcar operators."

Harvard University economist Lawrence Katz concurs by saying, "The tremendous amount of economic activity associated with housing, I can't see that coming back...That was a very unhealthy part of the economy."

The article highlights that some jobs were on the decline anyway and just accelerated by the recession. For example the Department of Labor cites that in November 2009, there were:

-36% fewer people working in record shops than two years earlier
-23% fewer people working at directory and mailing list publishers
-46% fewer people working at photofinishing establishments

The phenomenon of jobs and careers disappearing forever is not a new one. What is new, is the speed at which jobs and careers move towards obsolescence. Certainly technology is playing a major role there. Just look at the 3 examples mentioned here - record shops, publishing houses and photofinishing services. In the case of photofinishing services, it seemed like just yesterday, some of us who are photography buffs, were really loving the idea of the 1-hour photo mart. Now with printers and digital cameras, we are doing things at home.

Here are some previous postings about declining careers and jobs that offer insight as to what to do if you think you are in one of these declining professions:

-Is your Career Going the Way of the Pontiac?
-Occupations with Declining Employment

Also, read the entire WSJ article and learn more about 6 real people faced with readjusting career expectations. It is possible to regroup and rebuild and for some people the time is right to look at new longer term options. Link to article.


Kingsley Tagbo, IT Career Coach said...

The common thread here is the use of new technology making jobs obsolete. The key is to continually look toward where the new technology is in your industry. Keep your skills updated, stay on the cutting edge.

Marcia said...


You are right about the value of new technology skills in staying current and marketable.

Some employees don't realize that without new training every year, they are missing out and falling behind.