Signs of the Times #8: Thriving or Dying: Which type of industry do YOU work in?

America’s 25 Dying Industries

By Evan Comen and Samuel Stebbins   December 16, 2015 2:43 pm EDT


America’s 25 Thriving Industries

By Samuel Stebbins and Evan Comen   December 16, 2015 2:42 pm EDT


The above two articles were published in December, 2015 on the website The America’s 25 Dying Industries  article is an interesting “read” and, of course, encapsulates the decline of the U.S. manufacturing story unfolding over the last 100 years. Manufacturing jobs (blue collar jobs) were being exported for decades but not necessarily mourned by the “white collar” segment of the population. After all they were only “blue collar” jobs! Well, thanks to the ever-accelerating high technology discoveries and innovations happening in the U.S., the “white collar” community also starting experiencing an exodus of jobs. Ironically, the “white collar” jobs did not necessarily leave the U.S. borders. The outsourced jobs are still here state-side but the people executing the tasks of the “outsourced” jobs are working for contractors such as Tata who is headquartered in the country of India. It’s a high-tech job sourcing contractor, one of many. So the jobs are still “here” but are being performed by H1-B visa employees imported into the U.S. and displacing U.S. employees who were performing the jobs previously. This is not an attack on Tata after all they are taking legal advantage of American H1-B visas, a legal U.S. “job vehicle” for filling job vacancies here in the U.S. The point of these jobs, however, is that they did not “leave” the U.S., only the “sourcing” of them did!

The second article, America’s 25 Thriving Industries, also published in December, 2015, features such a different fabric-design of America in the second decade of the 21st century! The post-WWII (World War II), 20th century make-up or design of the U.S. was as an industrial giant; a manufacturing behemoth, a job-creation machine with opportunity for those who worked hard. Our economic bubble grew and grew and grew. It was fueled by American know-how and American sweat. The muralist Diego Rivera painted some marvelous Industrial America scenes in U.S. public buildings. See the following two links for examples of a mural that was painted in Detroit, Michigan.–1932-33-large.html,–1933.html


What’s different about the “dying” vs. the “thriving” industries listed in these two articles? The “dying” industries listed are: clothing (apparel) manufacturing, physical printing of newspapers, communications equipment manufacturing, mill work such as knit fabrics, hosiery and sock mills,  broad woven fabric, curtain and linen, and textiles mills; mobile and manufactured home components, computer media such as CDs and tapes. Photofinishing, (remember the companies Kodak and Polaroid?). The inventions and discoveries of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s created the groundwork structure of the U.S. industrial revolution. The invention of the microchip (among other later 19th century discoveries) laid the ground work for the computer and Internet revolutions and the birthing of the jobs into the 21st century. Let’s look a little deeper into the industries mentioned in the article “America’s 25 Thriving Industries.” Ironically, six of the “thriving” industries mentioned in the December, 2015, article are already “dying or dead.” They are “oil industry” related and the American shale oil industry literally blew itself out in about five years!!! Wow, how’s that for accelerating job obsolescence. Five industries mentioned are agriculture (farming) related. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all agriculture was a “family” business up until the “corporate farms” starting buying up family farms, the children of farmers went to the city to find adventure, the automobile created the “suburb” after WWII, and farm land was “lost” to the building of the suburb.

Seven of the “thriving” industries mentioned probably would be considered small or “micro” businesses. Wine-making, beekeeping, dry pea and bean farming. How about goat farming! Talk about “back to basics”, it would appear we are coming full circle in our cultural evolution. The pendulum is swinging back. I have no problem with that but like the high tech revolution in the 80s and 90s, people aren’t necessarily equipped to handle the jobs or the change very well (efficiently).

After all, how does a college education specifically prepare one to work at a winery or on a goat farm? How about knowing how to grow beans or corn successfully? Or, tend colonies of bees for commercial pollination use? Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to give everyone free college education. What kinds of education are needed to fill these “thriving” industry jobs? Obviously, more agricultural with some finance expertise, than perhaps scientific skills such as engineers.

I’m like most everyone else, trying to make sense every day of what’s happening to our economy and have empathy for the younger members of the extended family as far as concern for job security, the job market, the future of current jobs now held by them.

In fact, one of my nephews has LOST his job not because it has become obsolete or an H1-B employee has taken the job BUT our state government can’t get their act together and pass a STATE BUDGET! My cousin was lucky enough to change jobs last year (2015) because her old job employer could not pay her on-time. WHY! Because our state could not pass a State Budget! Well, I’m getting into another totally different subject with my tirade here, but you get the idea. Everything is so crazy now. An industry thought to be a newer “thriving” industry can disappear in a very short time. Old skills lost by innovation and commercialization such as farming are now becoming “in vogue” again. Some industries are trying to “re-shore” their manufacturing back to the U.S. and complain that they can’t find the “skills” to fill the available jobs! Well, I say to that, I’m so happy that jobs are destined to return to the U.S. but….Mr. Businessman, what do you expect when those skills have not been in demand here for years. People can be trained but that takes time and money.

I have written about the issues of jobs and job training in the past. Here are links to those blog articles:

Jobs, jobs, jobs, and the mono-economy of the new millennium-part 1

Some past prescriptions to the jobs-employment problem-part 2

Jobs, jobs jobs and the job-training dilemma-part 3

Part-4-jobs, jobs-training-the more things change, the more they stay the same

Part-5A: Jobs and the re-tooling of an industrial-titan Chicago

Part-5B: Jobs, training and the search for long-term solutions


4 thoughts on “Signs of the Times #8: Thriving or Dying: Which type of industry do YOU work in?

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