On January 22, 2010, the Wall Street Journal published a state-by-state list of U.S. unemployment levels as of December 2009. The statistics were grim: Michigan, Rhode Island, California, South Carolina, Nevada, and Washington, D.C., all had unemployment rates higher than 12 percent. Despite signs that the labor market is slowly beginning to stabilize, that doesn’t mean much for out-of-work Americans looking for a short-term antidote to their lack of livelihood. Fortunately, the current recession doesn’t seem to have impacted every last pocket of the working world—on the contrary, some industries are actually booming in spite of the economic downturn. If you’re pounding the cyber-pavement in search of a new vocation, you may strike gold in the following fields.
According to the 2010–11 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare-related jobs comprise half of the twenty fastest-growing occupations in the United States. This industry’s growing popularity is partly a result of the fact that members of the baby boomer generation, one of the largest populations in U.S. history, are now reaching the stage at which they need more medical care. The BLS also explains that as healthcare costs continue to increase, duties that were formerly the province of doctors, dentists, and other high-level medical professionals are now being performed more and more often by lower-paid workers, such as physicians’ assistants, dental hygienists, and the like—all of which is good news for people who aspire to join this exploding industry.
No matter what’s happening in the U.S. economy, kids (and adults) will keep going to school, so teaching is not only a surefire way to secure an income, but also a noble cause. Schools typically have the greatest need for math and science teachers, but more jobs than usual may open up in other disciplines as the baby boomers prepare to retire over the next few years. The BLS estimates that between 2008 and 2018, 244,200 new positions will become available to elementary school teachers (except special education), and adds that outside of the traditional teaching framework, “self-enrichment teachers are growing rapidly as more individuals seek additional training to make themselves more appealing to prospective employers.” But CNNMoney.com put it best: “Try to get fired from this union job. Just try.”
3. Clean Energy
As the United States strives to reduce its carbon footprint and develop more eco-friendly practices, the green-business world, particularly in the energy sector, shows no signs of slowing. Consumers may cut back on their energy usage, but they’ll never stop using it altogether; in addition, companies need qualified advisors to deliver their services more efficiently and less wastefully.
4. Public Safety/Law Enforcement
A January 27, 2009, Reuters article revealed that 44 percent of 233 police agencies that the Police Executive Research Forum polled blamed recent U.S. crime increases on the fact that the country is experiencing its worst financial crisis in decades. In short, recessions breed illegal activity. That’s bad news for the victims of these crimes, but good news for anyone who’s considering a career in public safety or law enforcement.
The IRS won’t shut down in this economy—how could the federal government possibly recoup some of its losses without taking taxpayers’ money? As a result, accounting businesses are as stable as they’ve ever been, because a financial crisis doesn’t magically endow the mathematically unskilled with a gift for number crunching come April 15. What’s more, businesses are likely to be scrounging for any tax deductions they can get in these bust times, and accountants have all that information at their fingertips.
6. Financial Planning/Analysis
Financial planners and analysts conduct fiscal research that enables them to provide customized investment suggestions to their clients. Some professionals in this field (personal financial advisors) work with individual clients and focus on personal investment preferences, while others (financial analysts) assess various economic sectors and advise businesses that want to maximize their investments. Either vocation requires a bachelor’s degree at the very least, which can be supplemented with various certifications, such as a chartered financial analyst (CFA) or certified financial planner (CFP) designation. If you’re a detail-oriented people person with a solid understanding of tax laws, money markets, and general economic trends, financial planning/analysis might be right up your alley—especially during a recession, when companies are more concerned than ever about their bottom line.
7. Network Administration and Analysis
No business can afford shutdowns due to network failures, especially not during financially turbulent times. Network administrators configure, maintain, and monitor companies’ computer hardware and software to ensure seamless operations, while network analysts focus on network design and security. Either position is an excellent choice for technologically skilled workers with the training necessary to fulfill these complex roles.
8. Software Engineering
The BLS predicts that 175,100 new jobs will open up in software engineering between 2008 and 2018, as more and more Americans come to rely on information technology to guide their everyday lives. If your academic background is in computer science and mathematics, you have the basic skill set required to create, test, and evaluable the software systems that are invaluable to modern businesses—and since technology is surging ahead at its usual breakneck speed despite the economic slowdown, engineering could be a good (and lucrative) fit for you.
On January 22, 2010, six years after the Iraq war began, the Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee reported, “The number of people walking into [military] recruiting offices has grown as the economy withers. And while patriotism continues to be a motivation for some recruits, many also see the military as a job with generous benefits and little prospect of layoffs.” The word “generous” is an understatement—the Journal Sentinel lists $40,000 recruiting bonuses, family healthcare plans, college tuition, and housing allowances as some of the incentives the military offers to new service members. War may not be the answer, but the payoff is significant.
On the Job
In the midst of a financial catastrophe, no one is safe; even people who haven’t lost their jobs are feeling the pain of the recession in other ways. But there’s no doubt that the alarmingly high unemployment rates currently plaguing the United States are some of the most widespread and public manifestations of our financial infrastructure’s downfall. Before you succumb to utter despair and resign yourself to being on the dole, though, take stock of the industries that are charging full steam ahead into the second decade of the twenty-first century. They’re out there, and they might even want to give you a job.