Postal worker Buddy Collins of Eliot, Maine, scrapes ice and snow from his windshield, Dec. 29, 2015, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (AP Photo)

Postal worker Buddy Collins of Eliot, Maine, scrapes ice and snow from his windshield, Dec. 29, 2015, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (AP Photo)

The U.S. Postal Service employs more than a half-million workers who deliver more mail to more people in a larger geographical area than any other postal service in the world.

Their unofficial motto is, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” However, the future might succeed where bad weather couldn’t; the employment outlook is bleak for U.S. postal workers, named one of the fastest declining occupations by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

baby boomersBetween now and 2024, jobs for postal service mail sorters, processors and processing machine operators are expected to drop more than 33 percent. The popularity of email and of paying bills electronically have helped drive USPS profits down.

Switchboard operators and photographic process workers also face grim future job prospects, but the job that is expected to decline the most between now and 2024 is that of locomotive firer, also known as an assistant engineer, who assists in operating a passenger or freight train.

Other diminishing occupations include: electronic equipment installers and repairers, shoe machine operators and tenders, textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders and watch repairers.

People interested in job security should look to the health care field.

Occupational therapy ($56,950 per year) and physical therapy ($54,410 per year) assistants are among the fastest growing occupations, respectively increasing 43 percent and 41 percent over the next eight years.

More than half of the top 20 fastest growing occupations are in the health care field, thanks in large part to the aging Baby Boomer population.

In the 1990s, this group of Americans — born between 1946 and 1964 and ranging in age from 51 to 70 in 2016 — were at their most economically productive. The first Baby Boomers, though, started turning 65 in 2011. Between 1990 and 2020, the population of Americans aged 65 to 74 is expected to grow 74 percent, straining services and programs required by an elderly population.

People who provide those services can expect to have an easier time finding a job.

Renewable energy is going to fuel the most work. The people with the brightest job outlook, between now and 2024, are those who install and maintain wind turbines.

Wind turbine service technicians, who currently earn a median annual income of about $48,000, are in the fasting growing occupation in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of job growth in the field is expected to be 108 percent.


The 20 fastest growing occupations in the United States (followed by the percentage of expected growth):

Wind turbine service technicians 108%
Occupational therapy assistants  43%
Physical therapist assistants  41%
Physical therapist aides  39%
Home health aides  38%
Commercial Divers  37%
Nurse practitioners  35%
Physical therapists  34%
Statisticians  34%
Ambulance drivers and attendants, except emergency medical technicians  33%
Occupational therapy aides  31%
Physician assistants  30%
Operations research analysts  30%
Personal financial advisors  30%
Cartographers and photogrammetrists  29%
Genetic counselors  29%
Interpreters and translators  29%
Audiologists  29%
Hearing aid specialists  27%
Optometrists  27%


The 20 fastest declining occupations in the United States:
Locomotive firers
Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles
Telephone operators
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators
Switchboard operators, including answering service
Photographic process workers and processing machine operators
Shoe machine operators and tenders
Manufactured building and mobile home installers
Foundry mold and coremakers
Sewing machine operators
Pourers and casters, metal
Postal service clerks
Postal service mail carriers
Postmasters and mail superintendents
Textile knitting and weaving machine setters, operators, and tenders
Fabric and apparel patternmakers
Textile cutting machine setters, operators, and tenders
Watch repairers
Molding, coremaking, and casting machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
Prepress technicians and workers