Bureau of Labor Statistics projects major loss of middle-class jobs by 2024

Published: Mar. 16, 2018 at 10:58 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The United States is projected to add about 10 million new jobs between 2014 and 2024, but as more jobs are appearing in some industries, others are projected to disappear.

"I think we're going to see jobs disappearing over the next 10 years that we've been accustom to, but we will also see jobs appear that we haven't been accustom to, so I think that we have no idea what the landscape of jobs is going to look like in 10 years," said Eric Fulcomer, the President of Rockford University.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), says the country's middle class has been shrinking, creating a decline in the demand for many mid-to-low skill positions. The bureau believes there will be a loss of tens of thousands of middle-class jobs by 2024.

The BLS projects the most dramatic change in employment will be among postal workers because of the wide use of email now a day, dropping nearly 34% within the next 6 years.

A few other rapidly declining jobs include switchboard operators, manufacturing positions, computer operators, bank tellers and travel agents. The bureau reports travel agents are one of the most rapidly disappearing professions in the U.S., projected to drop 11.7% by 2024 because of the easy travel booking websites.

Charlie Sturm, a travel agent and co-owner of Lindstrom Travel, doesn't think travel agents will disappear.

"We're still very busy; we are busier than we've ever been. Every year business increases over the previous year. We've hired two new people, which we haven't had to hire people for ages. Some people always ask me, ‘well how do you stay in business with the internet out there?’ and all the internet has really done is taken away cheap airline tickets from us,” said Sturm.

Many of these middle-class positions are being replaced by technological advancements because of the wide use of the internet. Sturm believes people enjoy doing work with humans to justify their travel plans, receive advice, and speed up the process.

"Some people want to spend 5 or 6 hours or weeks looking for airfare, and that's fine they can do that online and figure that one out, or they can call us and we'll have it within 10 or 15 minutes. That's kind of the upside, you don't have to do any research, you don't have to do any checking," said Sturm.

Even though the bureau projected this decline, LoRayne Logan, the President and Founder of Workplace, a staffing and search business for regional employers, says these changes could come with a silver lining.

"I think technology will take over a portion of it, so think about it as an evolution of what the machine can do, but it still now needs a partner who brings a certain set of thinking skills. I think what we're going to see is individuals being required in the workplace because our ability to see smell and touch makes us different from technology, so I don't think the human is ever replaceable," said Logan.

More than 90 million Americans work in these jobs that require little to no prior experience and less than a bachelor's degree. Many of these positions just require on the job training, making them replaceable and carrying an average annual salary of less than $40,000.

"There was a time when you could simply walk out of high school and walk in and get a job. The simplicity of that approach is declining, there are just fewer jobs where that's possible," said Logan.

"Recent studies show that students who earn a bachelor's degree will earn about $1 million more over their lifetime than those without a bachelor's degree or just a high school diploma, so I think it's a good investment," said Fulcomer.

President Fulcomer says Rockford University prepares students to be well-rounded individuals who can adapt to changing careers.

"I’m confident that the education that we're providing is going to be nimble enough to help these students move on to whatever the new careers are that we can't even imagine today," said Fulcomer.

Rockford University says its general education aims at preparing students, not only for their first job but also for their second, third and fourth job because, in this day and age, people change jobs 7-10 times in their lifetime and totally change careers 3-5 times.