20 jobs that baby boomers loved in 1990 — but that millennials today just don't want

Getty ImagesA Toys R Us store opening in 1990.
  • The US economy has changed a lot in the last several decades.
  • Using Census data, we found 20 industries that used to have a lot of young adults in their workforces that now are dominated by older workers.
  • Several manufacturing and wholesale industries made the list.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Blockbuster, Pogs, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t the only things that had their time in the sun in the early ’90s – jobs that were popular with young people back then are no longer drawing millennials.

We recently looked at what industries are currently dominated by millennials. To get a sense of how the US economy has changed since baby boomers and Gen Xers were young adults, we looked for once-popular jobs that have very few millennials employed today.

Read more: 37 jobs that could be decimated by 2026

Using data from the Minnesota Population Center’s Integrated Public Use Microdata Series for the 1990 Census and 2017 American Community Survey, we found the share of the workforce aged 21 to 36 – how old millennials were in 2017,according to the Pew Research Center – in each year for 224 industry groups tracked by the Census Bureau.

The Pew Research Center provided definitions for generations, meaning that in 1990, plenty of baby boomers and Gen Xers were the same age older millennials were in 2017. The industries we’re looking at were popular with those young adults in 1990, but had a much smaller share of similarly aged millennials in 2017.

As with broader trends in the economy as globalization and automation reshape the way Americans work, many of the industries that have seen a big drop in young-adult employment are in the manufacturing and wholesale trade sectors.

For each industry, we also included the average income among 21- to 36-year-olds working in that industry in 1990 and in 2017,adjusted for inflation.


20. Machinery, equipment, and supplies (wholesale): In 1990, 47% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 28% in 2017 (a 19-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars):$US53,662

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US50,235


19. Manufacturing of leather products (except footwear): In 1990, 43% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 24% in 2017 (a 20-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US30,041

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US31,976


18. Manufacturing of bicycles and miscellaneous transportation: In 1990, 49% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 29% in 2017 (a 20-point difference).

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US35,927

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US41,587


17. Bus services and urban transit: In 1990, 38% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 19% in 2017 (a 20-point difference).

Flickr / MTA

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US38,101

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US35,072


16. Miscellaneous plastics products manufacturing: In 1990, 50% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 30% in 2017 (a 20-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US38,636

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US38,109


15. Structural clay products manufacturing: In 1990, 50% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 30% in 2017 (a 20-point difference).

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US40,033

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US32,538

Structural clay products include ceramic materials like bricks and tiles used in building structures.


14. Metals and minerals wholesale trade: In 1990, 46% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 26% in 2017 (a 20-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US48,510

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US54,020


13. Professional and commercial equipment and supplies wholesale trade: In 1990, 53% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 32% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

Julio Cortez/AP

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US53,480

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US57,091


12. Fuel dealers: In 1990, 40% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 19% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US43,355

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US38,277


11. Air transportation: In 1990, 49% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 28% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

Tim Boyle/Getty

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US48,290

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US44,395


10. Miscellaneous nondurable goods wholesale trade: In 1990, 47% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 26% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US36,779

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US40,357


9. Pottery and related products manufacturing: In 1990, 46% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 25% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

Shutterstock

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US38,931

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US40,549


8. Cement, concrete, gypsum, and plaster product manufacturing: In 1990, 46% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 25% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US44,822

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US46,439


7. Miscellaneous paper and pulp products manufacturing: In 1990, 46% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 25% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

rblfmr / Shutterstock

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US42,083

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US47,564


6. Electrical goods wholesale trade: In 1990, 48% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 27% in 2017 (a 21-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US52,144

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US51,402


5. Computers and related equipment manufacturing: In 1990, 50% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 27% in 2017 (a 23-point difference).

Ulrich Baumgarrten/Getty Images

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US64,175

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US72,890


4. Printing, publishing, and allied industries, except newspapers: In 1990, 49% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 27% in 2017 (a 23-point difference).

Fun Fun Photo/Shutterstock

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US45,024

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US40,518


3. Dyeing and finishing textiles manufacturing: In 1990, 44% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 21% in 2017 (a 23-point difference).

Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US33,388

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US35,715


2. Machinery manufacturing: In 1990, 44% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 20% in 2017 (a 24-point difference).

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US48,804

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US50,082


1. Wood building and mobile home manufacturing: In 1990, 57% of this workforce was aged 21 to 36, which fell to 31% in 2017 (a 26-point difference).

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Average young-adult income in 1990 (2017 dollars): $US37,799

Average young-adult income in 2017 (2017 dollars): $US36,607

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