Jobs with LOW Unemployment – The Data is In

by Darwin on January 19, 2011

With the unemployment rate stubbornly hovering above 9%, I sometimes make the mistake of simplifying the situation by saying to myself  “about 1 out of 10 people I know should be unemployed, statistically speaking”.  As it turns out, of the hundreds of people I know somewhat closely, I can think of only 2 that have been laid off, and only 1 is presently unemployed.  So, it’s much more granular than a flat 9.x % of Americans out of work.

There’s widely publicized data ( showing unemployment is quite a bit lower for advanced degrees, low for college degrees, high for highschool only and very high for less than high-school.  What’s especially instructive though is the data assembled by showing what the unemployment rate and trends look like by profession.  (source)

This data could be used to either see what your profession looks like at large, or perhaps if you’ve always been considering a career change and find that your desired profession has a 13% unemployment rate right now, you may want to reconsider.  Some trends that jumped out at me were the following:

Professions with Very Low Unemployment:

  • Management Occupations (various)
  • Healthcare (very low! at 2.5%)
  • First Line Supervisors
  • Legal
  • Teachers and Post-Secondary Teachers
  • Accounting

Professions with Very High Unemployment:

  • Transportation and Materials Movement
  • Construction
  • Cashiers
  • Servers and Cooks
  • Stock Clerks and Order Fillers

Any Surprises? Opinions?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

brokeprofessionals January 20, 2011 at 1:27 am

Darwin…..your data is hurting my brand name! lol.
I am surprised that legal is noted as having low unemployment, given recent articles I have read. In New Jersey where I live, lawyers are having a difficult time. It seems that medical is good across the board and across the nation. I wonder how the archaic sciences (like geology) are doing these days………yep, time to stop complaining about my field.


101 Centavos January 20, 2011 at 9:45 am

Hey MR, great link to that WSJ resource. The interactive charts are very cool to play around in. What’s my takeaway from the data, you ask?
Lawyers, doctors/nurses, chiropractors, CEOs and the clergy are doing very well. Steel workers, millwrights. stonemasons or anyone else involved in the “production” (productive?) category are S.O.L.
There is no data available for many occupations, including economists (?!)
Our government seems to be staffed with ex-lawyers and doctors.
Chinese government is staffed with engineers.
The Chinese make stuff.
We buy stuff.
We owe them money for the stuff.


Darwin January 20, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Isn’t it funny how that works? Our “lawmakers” are virtually all lawyers. So, of course our legislation is very heavy on legalease and requires a constantly growing army of lawyers to get anything done.

Right on China; India too. They are churning out engineers at over 10X our rate. And in India, they speak English; soon the Chinese will too. It’s gonna be tougher and tougher to compete in a flat world.


krantcents January 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I see a pattern here! The jobs requiring higher skills have a lower unemployment rate. Education/training is an important part of that.


Darwin January 20, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Supply/Demand always seems to insert itself into everyday life; no exceptions here. Just read a study today on how most students don’t actually learn a thing by Junior year in college.


sandy @ yesiamcheap January 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm

This past recession saw management jobs (especially those of men) fall significantly. I guess it’s right historically, but I wonder if we mapped the trends over the past 5 years or so for those jobs how it would look.


Darwin January 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I guess if you’re in the management position deciding the layoffs…

Yeah, the data’s not very granular and titles could mean many different types of jobs. I don’t know where mine fits. I’m an Engineer – with an MBA – who’s a project manager. What is that, “Management”?


Daddy Paul January 22, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I cannot agree with this article at all. You must not have ever traveled to Michigan. When I walk into Walmart and see 25 year accountants and 20 year engineers stocking shelves I know the unemployment rate is high. When I see 25 to 30 percent of homes abandoned 10% unemployment is a pipe dream.


Darwin January 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Well, I cannot agree with your point – at all, either.
1 word – MOVE.
People have this notion that they are entitled to live wherever the heck they want and have the same employment/pay opportunities that exist elsewhere in the country. You’re citing a complete unique circumstance – that was decimated by the auto industry. In RTP or CA, demand for engineers is booming. People think after GM and Chrysler practically collapsed, they should wait around and a new auto job will just land in their lap?

Anyway, to say you “disagree with this article” doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway since the data is the data – presented as is. It’s tough to disagree with data.


101 Centavos January 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm

How can you tell if the shelf stockers are engineers and accountants? Are they wearing pocket protectors and carrying double entry calculators? 🙂


Darwin January 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Great point.


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