Because of the nature of technology, things tend to improve on a near-exponential level and while that can mean good things for people on a day to day level it also has unknown consequences for how those people pay to basically survive from, you know, day to day. There are countless very smart people coming out to say that we may need to pump the brakes on the whole “Full-Speed Ahead” towards a future with robot overlords until we at least figure out what we’re going to do with all the people that will be jobless ten years from now when cars are built, driven and repaired by robots. So, let’s take a look at the worst 15 jobs to have in 2018 in terms of long-term job security (with a dash of whether or not that job is very great to begin with).
While this list is basically just a middle finger to pre-internet jobs, there are often unforeseen consequences with replacing entire industries (or at least in disrupting them) and that goes for retail as much as it does any other. Retail gigs aren’t solely just cashiers or salespeople, but also gigs like Tailors. Tailors were once so important that they became the last name of an entire group of people, but because of the advent of online shopping and the ability to basically order custom-made clothing (as long as you know your measurements), people don’t really need tailors anymore. However, the key is getting those measurements and if your entire career is based on whether or not someone has enough printer ink left to print out those paper rulers, maybe it’s time that you went back to school.
14. Photo Processor
The kids that exist in whatever the generation after Millenials may not realize this, but there was a time where most strip malls had stores that focuses solely on developing pictures from a thing called film that used to be in cameras before the digital revolution. So, while digital photography does make it easier for especially younger people (who can’t afford the expensive film) to try photography as a hobby or career, it has also limited the number of jobs in that industry and the industry as a whole. While there’ll always be a spot for film, it’s weird to think that companies like Kodak are no longer massive multi-billion dollar operations in and of themselves. So, really the only good news is that this gig has mostly bottomed out (thanks mostly to the advent of home picture printers) and while it still has negative growth forecasted over the next decade (at -1.2%) at least that means that people that currently have jobs shouldn’t have to worry too much about losing them. Just don’t get fired, or quit, or get sick.
13. Floral Designer
As this list shows, economies are complicated and when you introduce things like the internet to an established economy it can create gigantic and unforeseen consequences. So, with retail suffering tremendously by the move to online shopping, existing retail conglomerates have started to either buy up the competition or simply begin offering services that they otherwise wouldn’t have, which makes it hard for mom and pop shops to compete. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the floral industry, where jobs are down a full 30% since the start of the century and while people can find more floral jobs at grocery stores, those jobs like most things on this list just aren’t the same (in terms of quantity and quality) and that’s really too bad. Luckily, it does look like in some cities the specialty shop is coming back for those that don’t like the one sized fits all feel of the new economy, so maybe there’s hope!
Part of the growth of technology in the job market has been the growth of automation, which is like a new revolution on-top of the industrial revolution. Go to any factory you go to these days and you’ll find entire departments where robots are doing the work of what used to require multiple men and extrapolate that further and you can see why there’s a lot of uneasiness when it comes to the manufacturing industry. One of the largest conversations that’s happening in terms of innovation and where we as a society (or societies) will go is how fully we should embrace automation or artificial intelligence or both, with the fear that the country that fully automates (or reaches supreme intelligence) first will end up having an incredible advantage while also needing to worry about what that means for the people of that country. So far, it’s not looking great as the business owners who create automation robots aren’t just giving that money to the people whose jobs they’ve destroyed, but we can hope!
11. Fast Food Worker
The economy is hard and because there are so many variables that dictate how things end up working in the long run, things with good intentions can actually end up backfiring in the long run. That may be the case with the push for $15 minimum wages in larger (mostly liberal) cities, as “restaurants” like McDonald’s or Burger King (or the companies that own multiple franchises of both) have warned that by essentially doubling the wages of their employees the companies will end up bringing more automated kiosks into their stores with end up lowering the number of people hired as a whole. While that may not be the best position to be in as a company (“let us pay our employees like crap or we’ll replace them with robots!”) it does really go to show you how hard it is to actually control an economy, so while most people do benefit from the raise of the minimum wage perhaps a leap to something like $15 from around $9 was too much, too soon.
10. Computer Programmer
Perhaps the most surprising entry on this list is that of computer programmer, as most of the gigs on this job are being reduced or eliminated because of the work of a computer programmer or two. The problem here isn’t the same as it is in other industries, though, as the programming gigs aren’t being replaced by machines or more efficient means, but rather as a result of globalization. As more countries focus on the new economy of the world they’re training entire generations of (mostly) men to become computer programmers and that allows for countries like India and China, with their massive populations, to compete on a level that people in the United States simply cannot with our standard of living. So, while for the time being there are still plum programming gigs in the US or Canada, the growth rate is actually… not growing (at a negative eight percent clip) and has a pretty negative forecast in the next ten years. So, unless you’ve got a great idea for a huge app, perhaps find a job in… What’s left? Oh yeah, funeral homes! There’s always funeral homes!
9. Truck Driver
There are some jobs that people never thought would go away and considering how important truck drivers are the flow of the economy in every country, people definitely thought that if they got the proper licenses (and vehicles) that they’d have a gig for the rest of their lives. However, as the intro to this story explains, technology actually doubles every 18 months (or so) and because of that things are happening a lot faster than anyone outside of Sci-Fi movies in the 80’s thought they would. The best example of this is the self-driving car movement, which could save thousands of lives each year but would also put millions of people out of work in the process. Part of that fear isn’t unfounded as companies are already building self-driving big rigs with the first batch set to deploy sometime in the next year or two. So, unless the money from the companies behind these trucks is going to be evenly split between the drivers, there’s going to be a lot of unemployed people in the next ten to twenty years and that’s something that we need to prepare for.
With the internet basically creating a paperless world, or the closest thing we’ve had to a paperless world in centuries as well as the environmental impact of logging finally being fully understood, it may not come as a surprise that the job of logger is one that may not exist in the next five to ten years. While a lot of the jobs on this list are a great asset to society and to even democracy as a whole, being a logger or lumberjack has basically always sucked as it’s incredibly dangerous and doesn’t pay very well. So, while there isn’t really anything to replace logging, especially in the small towns that often rely on the income from that trade to survive, that doesn’t mean that (like with Coal) that we need to prop up a dying industry to save a few thousand low paid jobs. The better answer would be to retrain people in those industries as more people work for Arby’s than in the coal industry, but until there’s political points to be scored by propping up men in coal mining helmets or with axes, you’ll hear about these kind of jobs.
7. Newspaper Reporter
One of the first casualties of the internet age was traditional print media and while the industry has slightly rebounded from the initial doom and gloom that hit newspapers, magazines and… Newsazines, back then, the layoffs were tremendous and the paychecks that existed in the medium never really bounced back. That has lead to most writers going after multiple gigs in an attempt to replace the one that they had originally and one has to wonder if this is all worth it, especially when the result is bad for everyone involved. Think about it, the writers aren’t as good and so the content isn’t as good (or at least reaching the same standards that have existed in journalism for decades if not centuries) and the money isn’t as good as well. Sounds like an industry that’s in it’s death throws and considering how important journalism is to a democracy, that’s really not only too bad but really, really scary as well.
6. Retail Sales
This list is basically a who’s who of jobs or industries that have been destroyed by the internet and the largest sufferer from the rise of sites like Amazon is the retail industry, which is actually the largest industry in terms of the number of American’s employed. So, while it does look like Amazon is attempting to fill that void by erecting warehouses everywhere that house a lot of common items that they sell (to ensure quick shipping), they don’t pay as well as traditional retail jobs or offer the things that retail gigs offer like human interaction, commission or discounts on clothing/products. So, like most examples of this list, the internet disrupts an industry and replaces it with a crappier alternative all so that one or two people can make billions while everyone else suffers. That’s so antithetical to why the internet was created or what people thought it could do that it’s almost funny.
5. Radio DJ
With the proliferation of radio (as a concept) through both satellite and internet stations, you’d think that the position of radio DeeJay would be as hot as ever. Unfortunately, most of the new radio companies that have popped up on those mediums haven’t brought the DJ heavy model that has dominated the actual radio since really it’s inception. So, as people realize that they can still access music (especially music that is specifically tailored towards their own preferences) without having to listen to inane chatter from an impossible-sounding human, they’ve found that they somehow prefer it. So, as companies like Sirius XM, Pandora and Spotify increase their market share terrestrial radio stations that still rely on the DJ heavy format suffer massive losses and many DJ’s find themselves out of work. So, while there may still be a future in gigs like radio production, being an on the air talent may be a thing of the past and that’s really too bad because it does give radio some of its charm and also help break up the monotony of the workday.
4. Postal Worker
There was a point in time where the United States Post Office was the largest employer in the nation and you can actually pinpoint the fall of the American Middle-class as the moment where Wal-Mart overtook the Post Office as the largest employer in the country. Because the Postal Union is also one of the larger unions in the country (that still exists, anyway) it’s long been hated by the right and because of that they’ve introduced a lot of policies that were singularly designed to destroy the Post Office this century. In 2006, during a lame duck session, Republicans in the Senate passed a bill that required the Post Office to fully guarantee it’s retirement benefits for the next 75 years (meaning for people that weren’t even born at the time of that the bill passed) and because of that the typically liquid Post Office fell deep into debt for the first time really in it’s existence. So, without some tangible changes from the government the Post Office could end up in deeper trouble than it otherwise would’ve been, so the once great gig that offered a lifetime of security and decent wages may be in jeopardy as well, something that has to worry the excitable bunch down at your local post office.
Freelancers often live gig to gig and while the Trump administration has shown itself to be relatively pro-Freelancer, it may not be in the way(s) that freelancers hope. With the deregulation that the Trump administration has shown that it fully supports, companies should be able to hire more freelancers now more than ever but that’s basically just in lieu of full-time positions which means that there’ll be far less full-time gigs out there for people who work as writers or even freelance IT, people. On top of that, the safety nets for people that do freelance like affordable healthcare under the Affordable Care Act may be overturned eventually (or dismantled from within, which is the most likely cause of its defeat) meaning that more and more people will end up working as a contract employee (meaning lower wages and no benefits) while also being unable to find those benefits affordable through the government. Yikes.
2. Federal Employees
Since really the Reagan administration, Republicans have been increasingly anti-Union, but it’s only been lately that they’ve gone fully after those that happen to be members of Unions and also employees of the Federal Government. Somehow, instead of getting people in the private sector to ask why they aren’t being treated as great as those in the public sector, they’ve convinced people to angrily ask why those in the public are doing so much better than they are. It’s the sort of race to the bottom that used to be antithetical to the United States’ vision of the world and until the results of the 2018 election, things are only going to get worse. With Republicans in charge of the government until at least early 2019 (or beyond, depending on the results of the mid-term election, where they traditionally do pretty well), Federal employees could be in for a pretty rough time, which is so different from how they’ve traditionally felt that it could really bring a lot of protests and economic panic.
1. Cab Driver
If the rise of the internet has proven anything, it’s that it’s been able to basically disrupt any industry regardless of type and while that may sound like a great thing, it really isn’t considering the track record that silicon valley has for replacing tired industries with worse alternatives. The best example of this is Uber or Lyft (or any other ride sharing services) vs. The Cab industry. Sure, being a cab driver has never been a cushy gig but at least you made enough money to mostly live and also had a certain amount of benefits, wages and rights. With Uber and Lyft, they’re essentially replacing an entire industry that’s responsible for millions of full time jobs with part time gigs while admonishing those who attempt to use their industry for a full-time gig, and it shouldn’t work that way. Sure, no one should be an Uber driver full-time, it’s just for side cash, but when you were relying on driving people around for your full-time cash, what other options do you have?