Decline in job sectors affecting business, farmers

Some have cited outsourcing as a cause for the loss of jobs.
Monday, March 28, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:31 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Lindsey Scherder, a sophomore in MU’s parks, recreation and tourism department, has witnessed the decline of a job sector.

Scherder grew up on her family’s farm in Bowling Green. She has seen suburban sprawl moving into the area and farmers losing their land.

“There are no players left to play the (agriculture industry) game,” Scherder said. “It’s too corporate.”

Decline in the agriculture job sector has been present for years. It is not the only career field that will be in less demand. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the job markets in a decline through 2012 in the “Occupational Outlook Handbook.”

Declining sectors

Manufacturing is the largest area of decline predicted. Job loss for textile mills, apparel manufacturing and computer/electronic manufacturing is projected to be 570,000 for the nation by 2012. Gilbert Hake, work force development manager for the Missouri Career Center, has observed the loss of manufacturing jobs in mid-Missouri.

“Shoe manufacturing years ago was huge in rural areas of Missouri,” Hake said. “Now that is gone, and brick manufacturing is declining, which affects areas like Mexico, Mo.”

Hake said these jobs are going overseas because they can be done more cheaply there. He also thinks an increase in aggressive economic development within rural areas could reverse the job-loss trend. He predicts that the influence of the Internet will help.

“If you are skilled, you will be able to work the same type of job anywhere because of the Internet,” Hake said.

Hake said he does not think the trend of assembly jobs going abroad will end soon.

Cutting costs

Chris Moten, a career specialist in the Career Center at MU, said he thinks more data-entry jobs and customer service departments will be outsourced and automated because of cost-cutting.

“A lot of the work force knows of the cost-cutting positions in the American economy,” Moten said. “I think there is going to be a backlash because Americans are not happy that these jobs are leaving.”

Anne Williams, president of Tempfinders, said cost-cutting could affect another major area of the job market.

“Retail employee numbers have been dropping; companies just can’t afford to keep as many people on the retail floor anymore, and this includes fast food,” Williams said.

She said she thinks Internet shopping will continue to have an effect on this decline.

Hake said he thinks technology has made it hard to predict what jobs are going to decline.

“The travel industry 15 years ago was seen as a good industry due to baby boomers vacationing more,” he said. “With Web sites like Expedia and the occurrence of 9/11, it is one of the areas in a steep decline.”

Even some long-solid fields are struggling.

“Older technology-type fields, such as computer science and computer programmers, are oversaturated,” Moten said.

Williams agrees with Moten but thinks that will soon change.

“There has been a decline in information technology and programmers since the millennium,” Williams said, “but in 15 to 20 years, this industry should be a field of growth due to the continuing growth of technology.”

Other sectors that are projected to have job decline in the handbook are agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, mining, broadcast technicians, news analysis and reporters.

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