We’ve already shown what might be the existence of a possible African-American underclass (read more about it here). Now you are wondering what can you do to prevent becoming a member of it. Get skilled! Regardless of how many degrees you have, pick up a skill that can’t be outsourced and eliminated. You can pick the right skill by looking at trends.

Before we discuss the trends, I want you to know why now is the best time to get a skill. Pay attention this article, “Congress Cuts $303 Million From Federal Pell Grant Program.” While many people focused on the $303 million in cuts they ignored, “The measure, championed by Senate Democrats, would cut Pell Grants in order to free up money to pay companies that collect student loans on behalf of the Department of Education.”  Aside from the politics, the article says the government is using the funds to go after people who owe student loans. The government sees that it could make more money from students owing the government instead of investing in students.

The truth is in this new economy if you lack the education and skills  needed you can’t compete. I’ve seen retail associates job postings where employers required applicants to have a degree. A degree! Think about it like this, if you can’t pay for post-secondary education, you can’t develop a skill. If you don’t have a skill employers won’t hire you and you will remain poor. That is the cycle of poverty.


Why do you need these skills?

Along with the threat of poverty, some jobs will be eliminated because of technology. There are all ready self-driving cars so there will be no need for taxi drivers. To our frustration, we already have automated customer service representatives and checkout kiosks. So those jobs are slowly but surely going to be eliminated too. According to Forbes article titled Was Your Job Replaced By Technology? There’s A Decent Chance You’ll Get Hired Back,

“The top three industries to have “deskilled” workers–the process of replacing humans with automated technologies–are information technology, financial services, and manufacturing, though workers have been affected by this process across numerous industries. And consumers already frustrated by never being able to reach a human employee when they call a company for assistance should prepare for the worst: The fields most likely to be impacted over the next decade are customer service, IT, accounting and finance, assembly and production, shipping and distribution, and sales.” Technology has made these services cheaper and machines do not require a salary or healthcare.

You can separate yourself from other Americans by learning a technical skill many of them do not have. In the New York Times article “As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up,”

“At the same time, the American work force has gained skills at a slower rate than in the past — and at a slower rate than in many other countries. Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 are among the most skilled in the world, according to a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Younger Americans are closer to average among the residents of rich countries, and below average by some measures.”

Someone will need to program those cars. Someone will need to repair those kiosks. That someone could be you. The article also goes on to say, “There are certain human skills machines will probably never replicate, like common sense, adaptability and creativity, said David Autor, an economist at M.I.T. Even jobs that become automated often require human involvement, like doctors on standby to assist the automated anesthesiologist, called Sedasys.” You can work in the medical field.

Where are African-Americans working?

Most African-Americans are working in the educational services, and health care and social assistance industry. However, if we take a look at the occupations they are in, many of them work in service jobs. The same service jobs that can result in elimination because of automation.

African-American Employees by Industry, 2013

Industry Estimate
Civilian employed population 16 years and over


Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining






Wholesale trade


Retail trade


Transportation and warehousing, and utilities




Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing


Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services


Educational services, and health care and social assistance


Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services


Other services (except public administration)


Public administration


Source: United States Census, Selected Population Profile in the United States, 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates Table – S0201


African-American Occupations, 2013

Occupation Estimate
Civilian employed population 16 years and over


Management, business, science, and arts occupations


Service occupations


Sales and office occupations


Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations


Production, transportation, and material moving occupations


Source: United States Census, Selected Population Profile in the United States, 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates Table – S0201

What are the occupation projections?

Below is a list of the top 10 declining occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because we pay attention to trends, we know even government jobs aren’t safe. It is why post office jobs are declining. The government cut their budget and are forcing privatization. For more information on post office cuts please read, “House to use post office cuts to fund highway bill

Declining Projected Job Rate 2012-2022

Occupation Growth Rate, 2012-2022
Postal service clerks -28%
Postal service mail carriers -28%
Semiconductor processors -27%
Broadcast news analysts -13%
Reporters and correspondents -13%
Travel agents -12%
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers -10%
Fallers -9%
Log graders and scalers -9%
Logging workers, all other -9%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013

For a complete list of declining occupations click here.

Now take a look below at the occupations the Bureau of Labor Statistics says are going to grow. At the top of the list are personal care and home health aides. Why are those occupations growing? It is because we have an aging American population. The United State Census 2012 projections say, “…the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2012 and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The older population would represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period, up from one in seven today. The increase in the number of the “oldest old” would be even more dramatic — those 85 and older are projected to more than triple from 5.9 million to 18.2 million, reaching 4.3 percent of the total population.” An aging population will need someone to provide healthcare services.

By the way, I believe the reason those two occupations will grow is because they do not require as much education as a nursing and medical degree. These are low paying occupations that mostly for-profit schools, if you watch the commercials, will try to steer people of color to. Avoid them at all cost and if you are going into the medical profession seek a highly skilled occupation.

Top 10 Fastest Growing Occupations Projected, 2012-2022

Occupations Growth Rate, 2012-2022 2012 Median Pay
Industrial-organizational psychologists 53% $83,580
Personal care aides 49% $19,910
Home health aides 48% $20,820
Insulation workers, mechanical 47% $39,170
Interpreters and translators 46% $45,430
Diagnostic medical sonographers 46% $65,860
Helpers-brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters 43% $28,220
Occupational therapy assistants 43% $53,240
Genetic counselors 41% $56,800
Physical therapist assistants 41% $52,160

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2013

For a complete list of the fastest growing occupations click here.

One more thing. Take a look at the fifth occupation, Interpreters and translators. Why do you think it is third? It is because the country will be majority minority and most of them are Spanish-speaking Americans. According to the U.S. Census, “The Hispanic population would more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic, up from about one in six today.”

Where can you go find out information on technical and high skilled training?

Go to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator. Not only can you find schools in your local area, you can look at the graduation rate of the schools and the cost. Let me stress one point. Avoid for-profit schools because they are a rip off.  In Whitney Barkley’s opinion piece for  CNN called For-Profit Colleges Rip Off Students it says,

“On average, tuition at for-profit colleges is four to six times higher than at a comparable public school. A two-year Senate investigation found a medical assistant diploma cost $22,275 at Corinthian’s Heald College in Fresno, California, while the same program at Fresno City College costs $1,650. An undergraduate certificate in paralegal studies at the Anaheim campus of Everest Colleges costs more than $43,000. At the Anaheim area community college, an associate’s degree in paralegal studies costs less than $3,000.”

And students at for-profit colleges generally cannot transfer credits because the schools lack the accreditation recognized by traditional community and four-year colleges. Without a job or the ability to transfer credits, students at for-profit colleges all too often find themselves unable to repay their loans; for-profit college students represent just 11% of federal loan borrowers, yet account for nearly 50% of loan defaulters.

Watching trends can prepare you to make smart decisions and life plan. By the way, if you are an entrepreneur you can use this same data to start or even adjust your business to adapt to demographic and economic trends. I hope this post opened up your eyes. It is up to you to decide whether you will merely survive or thrive. My goal is that you thrive. Good luck.

Here are some free websites that will help you make these decisions:

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It is a revolutionary act to be a Black woman who loves self in a world that says she shouldn’t. Be a revolutionary.

Thank you for reading,

Kisha aka Bougie Black Girl