Seventh-worst profession: Switchboard/answering service operator Median pay: $24,920
The old company switchboard operator is going the way of -- well, the old company switchboard. That's because cellphones, text messaging, voice mail and other modern technologies mean fewer and fewer people have to leave a message with a switchboard operator or answering service. "Cellphones reach the person you're trying to call, not the company operator," Morisi says. The BLS projects U.S. employers will hang up on 23.3% of all switchboard- and answering-service-operator jobs this decade, cutting the profession's ranks to 109,300 positions in 2020 from 142,500 in 2010. Sixth-worst profession: Sewing-machine operator Median pay: $20,600
Just as textile-machine jobs are disappearing to automation and offshoring, so too are positions for sewing-machine operators, Morisi says. Her agency forecasts the number of U.S. sewing-machine operators will drop to 121,100 as of 2020 from 163,200 in 2010. That's a 25.8% decline. Fifth-worst profession: Postmaster/mail superintendent Median pay: $60,300
A 2010 study commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service estimates mail volumes will fall to 150 million items by 2020 from 213 million in 2006 -- a 30% drop. That has the Postal Service cutting staff, closing facilities and proposing the end of Saturday mail delivery (a move that requires congressional approval). As a result, postmasters and mail superintendents -- the managers who oversee operations at post offices and sorting facilities -- face poor job prospects. The BLS estimates the USPS will cut 27.8% of all postmaster and mail-superintendent positions this decade, reducing the profession to 17,700 jobs as of 2020 from 24,500 in 2010. Fourth-worst profession: Fabric/apparel patternmaker Median pay: $38,970
These workers make the master patterns and layouts used in fabric and clothing production -- an industry where the workforce is shrinking faster than a cheap suit because of automation and offshoring. The BLS predicts the nation's ranks of fabric and apparel pattern makers will drop 35.6% to 3,900 in 2020 from 6,000 in 2010. "I think this is a job that's going the way of the textile worker," Morisi says.