If you work in real estate, social media or other technology fields, you could have a banner year in 2013. Those industries are primed for growth as an economic recovery kicks in and innovative new companies continue to change the way people live, work and communicate.
But many Americans work on the darker side of the economy, in fading industries whose best days are probably in the past. New technology is making some businesses less and less relevant, while others struggle to find customers in a global economy that's still weak, or face severe pressure to cut costs. To identify the most vulnerable industries, I asked industry-research firm IBISWorld to rank more than 1,000 industries according to the percentage of jobs they're likely to gain or lose over the next 12 months. Here are the industries expected to shrink the most in 2013:
Photofinishing (a projected 15 percent decline in jobs). You don't need an Instagram account to know that most people archive their photos online these days instead of gathering them in old-fashioned photo albums. And people who print photos tend to use online services or do it themselves at home. Those trends are airbrushing traditional retail photo outlets out of the economy.
Recordable media (15 percent decline). The digital revolution is also gutting the market for CDs and DVDs as more people stream music and video over the Internet. DVD and video game rental stores are becoming scarce, and the DVD-by-mail business, which seemed revolutionary a decade ago, is now becoming more and more antiquated with each passing day.
Tobacco (9 percent decline). Smoking actually picked up during the recession, perhaps because of more anxious people lighting up to help combat stress. An improving economy will most likely reverse that trend, plus rising cigarette taxes in some states will cause price hikes and lower sales.
Telecom networking equipment manufacturing (6 percent decline). Demand is strong for the switches and routers that connect companies and individuals to each other. The problem is that most manufacturing has been outsourced to low-cost countries, with only some high-end gear still made in the United States.
Newspapers (6 percent decline). You're probably reading this story on a computer or mobile device, which sums up the problem facing most newspapers: The old print business is dying in many areas, and it's impossible to make up all the lost revenue by giving news away for free online. More papers are starting to charge readers for access, to help augment advertising revenue.
Business certification and IT schools (6 percent decline). These specialty schools targeting high-school grads not planning on getting a full college degree used to offer programs on how to use computers and business software--which many kids now learn by themselves. And other programs offered by community or junior colleges--or online by traditional universities--often seem like a better deal to students.
Synthetic fiber manufacturing (6 percent decline). Two trends are forcing this industry to contract: A global cutback in spending on products such as clothing and electronics (which both incorporate synthetic fibers), and a concentration of manufacturing in low-cost overseas countries.
Live performance theaters (5 percent decline). The show might go on, but with cutbacks in government funding and penny-pinching theatergoers, there's less money for everything, from cast and crew to props and promotional fliers.
Beer, wine and liquor stores (5 percent decline). Spirit sales are doing okay, but stores that specialize in beer, wine and liquor face growing competition from grocery chains, discount outlets and even the Internet, as many states loosen restrictions on sales. Also, as the economy improves, people may go out to bars and restaurants more, and do less drinking at home.
Hardware manufacturing (5 percent decline). Production was already moving offshore before the recession, then the severe real estate bust forced everybody connected to the construction industry to cut costs even more. Foreign-made tools now account for more than half of all U.S. sales, a portion that seems likely to keep rising.
Rick Newman is the author of Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.
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