Young traveler planning vacation trip and searching information or booking hotel on laptop, Travel concept
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Travel Agencies and Other Businesses That Are Disappearing

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Endangered Employment

With the Great Resignation afoot and unemployment at an impressive 3.6% nationwide, it seems like jobs are for the taking. But it's not like anyone can get any job they want. Indeed, many once-robust industries have long been declining into irrelevance from factors such as outsourcing and automation, even as other industries showed unexpectedly rapid growth. Here are some U.S. industries and jobs disappearing from under our noses.


Related: Companies That Have Filed for Bankruptcy Since the Pandemic Began

Travel Agencies
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Travel Agencies

Travel took a pounding from the pandemic, but the booking industry had already shed more than 21,000 jobs, down from a high of 124,000 in 2000, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that growth will be only 5% (lower than the overall average of 8%) from now until 2030. Telecommuting has eliminated the need for many a business trip, and remaining agencies have been forced to adapt and accommodate more user-dependent online booking.


Related: 15 Industries That Would Benefit From a Recession

Newspapers
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Newspapers

It's practically a cliché to say newspapers are disappearing, after more than a decade of declining ad revenues, circulation, and public interest in print journalism. Since 2009, many major American metropolitan dailies have shuttered, filed for bankruptcy, or drastically reduced operations. Pew found a drop of U.S. newsroom employment to 88,000 in 2020, down by about a quarter from 2008. Some analysis shared the blame with publishers' lack of advertising and brand awareness in an ever-more-crowded marketplace. Then the coronavirus came along, and on its own closed an additional 50-plus local newsrooms across America in a few short months.

City Newsstands
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City Newsstands

The rise of the internet as a news source also affected the people in charge of distributing daily papers to readers — suburban paperboys as well as city newsstands. The latter's sales dropped 12.4% in 2016, continuing a long decline. In New York, one vendor estimated selling only 20 copies of the Post daily in 2018 compared with 1,700 in the 1980s, relying more on sales of beverages and lottery tickets. And that was before the pandemic, when commuting cratered.


Related: Classic Summer Jobs for Teens (and Some That Are Still Around)

Bookstores
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Bookstores

Print media as a whole has had a rough couple of decades, as the number of bookstores in the U.S. fell to 6,045 in 2019 from 12,151 in 1998, according to census data. The most precipitous event in the industry's decline was Borders closing its stores in 2011, and the most obvious suspect in its demise is Amazon, whose low prices and emphasis on ecommerce, ereading, and self-publishing has led to more book sales within an entirely new model. However, the remaining independent bookstores seemed to have figured out a formula even through the pandemic.

Other Publishers
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Other Publishers

As with print books and newspapers, it seems there's just too many niche publications jockeying for our attention. For magazines, alternative weeklies, mailing lists, art prints, zines, and greeting card companies the number of workers employed by such niche publishers declined by 44.7% from 2007 to 2016, the last time the BLS took a major look at the industry.

Logging
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Logging/Paper Mills

Employment in the logging and deforestation industries was predicted to drop 10.9% by 2026, while the larger market of pulp and paper mills was expected to shrink at almost twice the same rate. Such declines can be traced back decades to contributing factors such as high energy prices, less paper use in favor of digital platforms, and competition from plastic and steel as well as cheap foreign markets.

Cable
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Cable and Other Subscription Programming

All those cord-cutters switching to Netflix and Hulu over DirecTV and Time Warner are having an impact after all, and it's forecast to shrink employment in cable and other non-internet programming by almost 12% before 2026. The number of people watching cable and satellite TV has dropped dramatically, to 56% in 2021 from 76% in 2015, according to Pew Research Center. That's inspired many networks to enter the online streaming market and recoup some of the revenue lost — but the launch of Apple+, Disney+, Peacock, and others doesn't change employment rates significantly.

American African Holding Paycheck
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Professional Employer Organizations

Professional employer organizations help other businesses by handling "employee management" tasks such as payroll, benefits, retirement planning, training, and risk management — all processes that have become more streamlined due to technological advances. As a result, many professional employer organizations have shuttered or shrunk operations in recent years, to the tune of a 48% reduction in employment across the industry.

Photofinishing
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Photofinishing

The advent of digital technology has taken its toll on photofinishing labs as well, where employment has declined at least 60% since 2007. Most Americans can now take and refine high-quality photos right on their smartphones, so they no longer need to have film developed by one-hour photo stands at the local drugstore.

Video Rental
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Video Rental

Here's one you've probably thought of by now. Online streaming almost immediately made the neighborhood video rental store obsolete. From 2007 to 2016, employment at such establishments fell by almost 90% as Blockbusters and independent locations shuttered with record speed. About 86% of rental stores open in 2007 are now closed, while not coincidentally, revenue estimates for video streamers continue to climb.

Manufacturing
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Manufacturing

Once the bulwark of America's booming postwar economy, manufacturing is in such dire straits these days that related disciplines make up more than half of all entries on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' list of most rapidly declining industries. Whether making magnetic media such as audio tapes, telephone apparatus such as modems, or office supplies, American manufacturing workers have rapidly been replaced with new forms of technology or cheaper sources of foreign labor, even as the industry's output has grown steadily. Trade wars and tariffs led by the Trump administration didn't reverse the trend.


Related: 25 Towns Devastated by Losing a Single Company

Textiles
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Textile/Apparel Manufacturing

The textile manufacturing and apparel knitting industries shed roughly half their employees between 2007 and 2016, going much the same way as other manufacturing disciplines for many of the same reasons. Textile mill employment is expected to further decline nearly 30% between 2020 and 2030, according to BLS projections. Another major factor has been the elimination of quotas for domestic textile production in 2004, as Chinese textile and apparel imports have more than doubled.


Related: Eerie Abandoned Factories Across America

Formal Attire
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Formal Wear and Costume Rental

This increase in cheap imported textiles from China and other developing nations has allowed more Americans to buy formal wear rather than renting it, which helps to explain the 46% employment drop at clothing rental companies over the past decade. It doesn't help that fewer Americans are getting married, and no doubt the simplicity of finding costume components through ecommerce services has played a part as well.

Data Recovery
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Data Recovery

The market for data recovery services — which salvage computer files from corrupted or inaccessible storage devices — declined an annual average of 8% in the five years leading up to 2019. It gets worse: The decline was about 21% annually in many of the preceding years. These services are slowly but surely being supplanted by cloud-based recovery options that give users greater confidence in their ability to recover imperiled data.

Toys "R" Us
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Retail Stores

We thought we’d seen the worst of America's "retail apocalypse," in which thousands of once-iconic stores closed their doors as a result of rising rents and reduced profits from online competition. The industry lost 100,000 jobs from October 2016 to April 2017 alone. The disappearance of foot traffic and difficulty of having workers in a store or warehouse during a pandemic brought new devastation, as big companies from Brooks Brothers to GNC filed for bankruptcy.


Related: Sam Goody, K-B Toys, and Other Mall Stores We Miss

Postal Service
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The Postal Service

The U.S. Postal Service has reported a net financial loss every year since 2007, driven by a decline in mail sent and an uptick in costs for employees' pension and health care. The service has been another victim of digital age innovation, with the rise of email supplanting some of its business. It's flirted with suspending weekend service and just increased the price of stamps again, to 60 cents, to make its model more sustainable.