Warnings of an impending recession have reached a fever pitch. Inflation continues to rise, wreaking havoc in the stock market, and companies are beginning to prepare for the worst with layoffs, layoffs and, in some extreme cases, job cancellations.
The sudden shift in labor market dynamics — after months of strong job prospects and rising wages for workers — has left many working Americans scratching their heads.
“Job prospects are going to get much worse in the coming months,” Laurence Ball, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University, told CNBC Make It. “The question is, ‘How much worse?'”
If you’re looking to change jobs soon, you should know that while no job is completely recession-proof, certain industries often fare worse than others during a recession.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction and manufacturing sectors experienced significant job losses during the Great Recession, which lasted from 2007 to 2009.
That’s because during an economic downturn, people usually limit their discretionary spending and delay major purchases, including cars and new homes, said Karen Dynan, an economics professor at Harvard University and a former chief economist at the US Treasury Department. She predicts that these industries will see similar patterns if a recession were to happen anytime soon.
However, Ball and Dynan say the most so-called “recession-proof” industries to work in are healthcare, government, and computers and information technology, all of which can provide strong job security during economic downturns.
The common thread between these sectors, Ball explains, is that they are less sensitive to changes in interest rates, and that people depend on these services “whether the economy is booming or in recession”.
Education is another stable sector in difficult times, he adds, even as schools struggle to hire and retain staff in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ball expects there will be more demand for college and university staff in the US when a recession hits, as more people will pursue higher education “as a way to acquire new skills and improve their job prospects. “
“People are more likely to go to college when the job market is bad,” he says. “And if you graduate from college and the job market still looks bleak, graduate school becomes much more attractive.”
Whether you’re looking for a new job or not, Dynan emphasizes the importance of sharpening your professional skills so you can be a more competitive, valuable employee. See which skills are most common in the jobs you’re interested in and start practicing them, or ask your boss if your company offers professional development courses or webinars.
“There’s not much you can do outside of your normal work responsibilities,” she says. “But learning what skills employers are looking for and how to execute those skills well is your best bet.”
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