There are a few obvious ways the economy effects the job market. In times of recession, large companies often cut back on resources, offering fewer opportunities for movement. Smaller companies suffer as well, particularly those without the flexibility of large companies.
The economy has a psychological effect on careers, as well. While the economy is booming, there is an optimistic sentiment pervading the job market. People are encouraged to think about the possible. People entering the job market are encouraged to discover their talents and desires and find a creative way to turn them into careers.
During an economic downturn, career advisers encourage practicality. What jobs would provide the best chance for long-term stability? With the current recession (or possible recession according to the government who refuse to be definitive on the subject), people are more inclined to seek out jobs that aren’t affected by the economy.
Kiplinger targets several industries that are “recession-proof.” If the most important aspect of a career is financial security, then it may be wise to seek out jobs in these categories.
Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists will always be needed in our society. In fact, with an aging baby boomer population, I would predict that the next 20 years will see a strong demand for more people entering the health care profession. I do not agree, however, that this industry is immune to recession. Many hospitals are funded by states, and states will not hesitate to cut back their health care budget when funds run low. That’s the case right now in New Jersey, where budget cuts may cause some hospitals to shut down.
Unless people in this country stop having children, there will always be an increasing demand for teachers in general. Tough economic times, however, cause policy makers to turn back to “the basics” in order to develop young adults who can compete in science and math with those from other countries with rigorous curricula. In these same times, when budgetary cuts are required, arts programs are often the first to be reduced or eliminated. My opinion is that “special education” will see the biggest expansion in the next 20 years, regardless of the state of the economy.
Economic depression goes hand-in-hand with increased crime rates, so you can be sure that security jobs will remain strong regardless of the economy. Police officers and security guards will be in high demand
We’ve seen that as gas prices increase in this country beyond the point of demand elasticity, people buy fewer gas-guzzling vehicles and trend towards more practical modes of transportation. Car manufacturing companies are watching this trend in order to continue creating vehicles that consumers want. This is indicative of a trend towards the search for more environmentally-friendly solutions. The Bureau for Labor Statistics believes that jobs in the environmental industry, like ecologists and hydrologists, will see 25% growth over the next decade.
These days, neither Democrats nor Republicans seem interested in reducing the size of the federal government. Whether or not you agree with this approach, it means that government jobs will remain fairly secure. Kiplinger makes a point of mentioning that it’s difficult to be fired by the government for poor performance. That’s good news for lazy people.
When I have children, I hope that I can guide them in a world in which they don’t have to worry about “security” when choosing what to do with their lives. The job security promised by the Kiplinger article is mostly exaggerated, and at worse, downright mythical. Working for someone else, regardless of industry and economy, puts one’s job security outside one’s control. While the industries listed above are better positioned to last in an economic downturn on average, any one individual can have a drastically different experience than the average. I hope I will be able to offer advice to my children similar to the philosophy I mentioned above as more popular during a thriving economy: Discover your talents and interests, and be passionate about them.
My advice would continue: If you must be worried about job security, learn how to be flexible and excel at many things in order to make quick changes to your career if necessary. Finally, aim for self-sufficiency. If you have a boss other than yourself, you don’t have job security.
Recession-Proof Careers [Kiplinger]
Updated June 23, 2014 and originally published April 3, 2008.