How safe is your job?

Everyone loves a booming economy. Hopes are high, budgets get approved in a blink, and companies can’t hire fast enough to keep up with demand.

And yet, the economic cycle is called a “cycle” for a reason. Booms are inevitably followed by slow-downs, recessions, or downright depressions. When the economy falters, consumers tighten their belts, businesses cut non-essential expenses, and even the government is constrained in hiring. Of course, everyone wants to know which jobs are going to save them from these economic ups and downs. This is a tough question because every profession and job position combination is unique —  there are no guarantees.

Yet, some jobs are essential for the normal functioning of society. So, no matter what happens, there will always be a need for someone to do them. While it’s a stretch to call them “100% recession-proof,” they are as close as it gets to guaranteed job security in tough times.

There are also industries that fall into the category of “luxury spending.” Families splurge on them when there’s extra income. When money gets tight, or when delaying a purchase would be prudent, these industries (and the jobs associated with them) suffer.

Let’s go down both lists to see where you will find your job!

Top 6 “virtually” recession-proof jobs

Medical professional

There are many jobs and specialties within the medical profession. Registered Nurses (RNs), pharmacists, physicians, surgeons, paramedics, dentists, dental assistants, and even veterinarians all fall within this category. People and animals get sick regardless of the economy, so they always need access to qualified professionals who can help.

Specialized care, therapy, and counseling

This field is next to the medical-care field ‒‒ think elder care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, substance-abuse counseling, chiropractic care, and more. People value their well-being. They will invest in services that allow them to be productive and pain-free. Some of these services are covered by insurance, which encourages people to use them — even when money is tight.

Law enforcement

The exact relationship between crime and economic cycles is complex. Some crimes anticipate a downturn, others coincide with it, and some don’t show any correlation at all. Through any economic climate, communities want to invest in physical safety for local businesses and residents, which means that police officers and the professionals who support them remain in demand during an economic recession.

Public utility services

Electric, water, sewage, waste, trash, and recycling services all survive economic downturns. After all, they are critical to maintaining order and public health. Interestingly, consultancies that serve those utilities seem to share that benefit, as well. For example, many cities are required to conduct annual audits of their trash-service providers. Consulting firms that perform such audits will have work to do, even in a tough economy.

Financial services

Money movement is important, which explains why financial professionals are always in demand. Accountants, auditors, actuaries, claims adjusters, tax preparers, insurance underwriters — the list of financial service jobs is long and varied. Many positions require professional certifications, such as Enrolled Agent (EA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).

Education services

Economic booms may come and go, but investing in the future is always important. Jobs in primary education, secondary education, higher education, special education, and adult education are highly relevant regardless of the economic climate. Those who want to pursue this path should know that the way education gets delivered is shifting. In addition to traditional classroom instructors, new models of distance and on-demand education are becoming more relevant. So, a job in education can be flexible in both location and delivery style.

5 worst jobs to have in a recession

Construction and supporting industries

The construction industry is highly dependent on the health of the economy. When access to business and personal lending becomes tight, construction projects get put on hold. Even smaller-scale home remodeling projects can see delays. This affects all contractors, such as general contractors, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Supporting industries, like lumber and cement manufacturing,  see a negative ripple effect, as well.

Home furnishing retail

A new leather couch, a gorgeous wool rug, or a stunning chandelier — these beautiful touches make your home special. Unfortunately, they are not as urgent as paying your electrical bill. Putting food on the table, or buying your kids new shoes to replace the ones they have outgrown will win over a new dining room set, as well. In an uncertain economy, people hold off on making large purchases, which affects furniture and home furnishing stores.

Auto dealerships and other motor vehicle sales

When a family is down to one paycheck, fun toys have to wait. Companies that sell RVs, boats, and motorcycles see a decline in sales, along with car dealerships. People tend to invest in repairing their existing cars as opposed to buying or leasing new ones.

Vacation travel

Families still take vacations in a tough economy. However, those vacations look very different in a recession. An economic downturn inspires staycations and local adventures. Traveling to exotic destinations, fancy hotel stays, and fun excursions all tend to flatline or decline. Even business travel takes a hit as professionals search for budget-friendly options.

Printing and related services

Businesses tend to eliminate non-essential expenses when budgets get cut. Services like data imaging, plate making, bookbinding, and brochure and business card printing suffer a decline in demand. Large-scale print shops have high equipment costs and not much room to cut expenses. Managing labor costs through layoffs becomes one of the few bridges available for survival.

Common characteristics of recession-proof jobs

How do some jobs end up on the “best” list — while others take the brunt of an economic downturn? More importantly, how insulated is your job that may not be on the above list? There are three key factors to consider.

The first one is the degree to which an industry or a job is essential for the normal functioning of society. Without doctors, nurses, law enforcement, or public utilities, our communities would fall into chaos within days.

The second factor is a clear and urgent pain on the consumer’s side. When a crime is in progress or, when your child has a high fever, you are clear on what you need — and willing to pay for it if necessary.

Finally, many recession-resistant jobs need specialized training and experience. When a tax season is upon us, many families happily pay a trained tax preparer to ensure that their tax return won’t trigger an audit.

However, don’t worry if your job doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly in these requirements. There are hundreds of other jobs that are important to our well-being and continued order of society. Just always be aware of what’s going on when the economy starts turning for the worse.  

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