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Roustabouts are the workers who assemble and repair oil and gas field equipment. They do other unskilled work around rigs like cleaning up spilled oil, moving pipes to and from trucks and guiding cranes that move loads around decks.|
It's hard and dirty work, and in the labor hierarchy of oil rigs, roustabouts are a notch below roughnecks. But theirs is the fastest growing job category in our listing of America's 20 top growing and disappearing jobs.
Roustabouts' numbers have increased by almost a third, to 54,200 from 41,120 a year earlier, reflecting the boom in energy markets.
The number of service unit operators, who keep the oil flowing from wells and remove obstructions such as stuck pipes and casings, is up by a fifth, to 30,440 from 25,360 a year earlier, putting them at number three on our list behind aircraft assembly workers.
Our numbers are drawn from the U.S. government's National, State and Metropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. The available reports use 2007 data and are based on a national survey of employers in all industry sectors regardless of size.
They examine 800 occupations. For our lists, we excluded those occupations where total employment was less than 25,000.
The survey covers full- and part-time workers who are paid a wage or salary. It does not include the self-employed, owners and partners in unincorporated firms, household workers and unpaid family workers.
Our list of expanding jobs in America is drawn from a swathe of industries. Some--like oil and gas, health care, logistics and media--are to be expected. Others--like locomotive engineers and aircraft assembly workers--were more surprising.
Most of the growing job opportunities are at the non-specialist, or unskilled, end of the field, though they run the full gamut of wage levels. Non-specialist physicians and surgeons earn an average $155,150 a year, while home health aides average $20,850 a year and had the largest absolute increase in numbers--up 83,100 to 834,580, a year-on-year increase of 11%.
The disappearing jobs are concentrated in the lower third of the pay range, though the field work was done before the onset of the credit crisis, so it precedes recent job losses in the housing and financial services industries.
The disappearing jobs list also reflects the continuing long-term decline of no- and low-skilled manufacturing jobs in the U.S.--sewing machine operators, engine assemblers, machine tool setters, home appliance repairers and textile knitting machine operators.
There are some surprises: Actors and tax examiners show up on the disappearing list, which is topped by entertainers who performed in places like amusement parks and arcades--or at least who used to.