20 jobs that were popular before the Great Recession that have almost disappeared

The collapse of the storied Lehman Brothers investment bank was a climactic moment in the financial crisis.

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The collapse of the storied Lehman Brothers investment bank was a climactic moment in the financial crisis.
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Oli Scarff/Getty Images

  • The Great Recession of 2007-2009 brought the global economy to its knees.
  • After a slow and grinding recovery over the last decade, the US is nearly back to full employment, but not every industry has thrived.
  • We found 20 industries with far fewer workers now than in 2007, the year the recession officially began.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Great Recession and the financial crisis of 2007-2009 brought the global economy to its knees. An overheated US housing market combined with the failure of several storied financial institutions led to millions of jobs being lost around the world and a slow, decade-long recovery that has only recently brought the economy back to something approaching full employment.

A lot has changed since the recession shook the global financial system to the core, and to take a look at how the economy has been transformed, we found 20 jobs that employed hundreds of thousands of people in 2007 – the year the recession officially started, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research – that are only a fraction of that size today.

Using data from the 2007 and 2017 American Community Survey assembled by the Minnesota Population Center’s Integrated Public Use Microdata Series project, we looked at what industries had the biggest percent drops in employment between then and now.

For our analysis, we looked at industries that had at least 100,000 people employed in 2007. We also excluded military branches and a handful of “catchall” industrial groupings used by the Census, instead focusing on specific industries in the civilian sector.

Here are the industries, along with the number of employees in 2007 and 2017:


20. Printing and related support activities: 704,197 people were employed in 2007, falling to 544,190 in 2017 (a 23% drop).

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Fun Fun Photo/Shutterstock

19. Furniture and related products manufacturing: 582,615 people were employed in 2007, falling to 444,674 in 2017 (a 24% drop).

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Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

18. Commercial and service industry machinery manufacturing: 111,976 people were employed in 2007, falling to 84,420 in 2017 (a 25% drop).

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Johnny Greig/Getty Images

17. Textile product mills: 102,698 people were employed in 2007, falling to 77,263 in 2017 (a 25% drop).

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Vintagepix/Shutterstock

16. Logging: 107,710 people were employed in 2007, falling to 80,998 in 2017 (a 25% drop).

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Josef Mohyla/Getty Images

15. Retail florists: 129,668 people were employed in 2007, falling to 97,097 in 2017 (a 25% drop).

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Scott Olson / Getty Images

14. Paperboard containers and box manufacturing: 139,291 people were employed in 2007, falling to 103,377 in 2017 (a 26% drop).

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Getty Images

13. Gift, novelty, and souvenir shops: 203,413 people were employed in 2007, falling to 150,708 in 2017 (a 26% drop).


12. Vocational rehabilitation services: 236,867 people were employed in 2007, falling to 175,117 in 2017 (a 26% drop).

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Morsa Images via Getty Images

11. Cement, concrete, lime, and gypsum product manufacturing: 209,452 people were employed in 2007, falling to 154,110 in 2017 (a 26% drop).

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Getty Images

10. Fabric mills: 126,794 people were employed in 2007, falling to 92,889 in 2017 (a 27% drop).

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Rhonda Oglesby/Flickr

9. Cut and sew apparel manufacturing: 274,903 people were employed in 2007, falling to 199,462 in 2017 (a 27% drop).

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Getty Images/Michael Loccisano

8. Communications, audio, and video equipment manufacturing: 191,060 people were employed in 2007, falling to 135,950 in 2017 (a 29% drop).

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Getty Images

7. Office supplies and stationary stores: 184,215 people were employed in 2007, falling to 129,592 in 2017 (a 30% drop).

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Reuters/Rick Wilking

6. Wired telecommunications carriers: 835,711 people were employed in 2007, falling to 564,715 in 2017 (a 32% drop).

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Reuters/Mike Segar

5. Publishing, except newspapers and software: 376,730 people were employed in 2007, falling to 251,952 in 2017 (a 33% drop).


4. Book stores and news dealers: 188,312 people were employed in 2007, falling to 116,703 in 2017 (a 38% drop).

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Mike Segar/Reuters

3. Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing: 253,853 people were employed in 2007, falling to 146,624 in 2017 (a 42% drop).

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Flickr / Leonardo Rizzi

2. Newspaper publishers: 438,291 people were employed in 2007, falling to 208,549 in 2017 (a 52% drop).

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Shutterstock/Bridget McPherson

1. Aerospace product and parts manufacturing: 296,599 people were employed in 2007, falling to 66,921 in 2017 (a 77% drop).

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Joint Strike Fighter