Special Report

The Easiest (and Hardest) Jobs to Keep

The Easiest Jobs to Keep

10. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 1.0%
> Median annual pay, 2012: $69,300
> Employment change, 2012-2022: -19.3%

Only 1% of American farmers were unemployed last year, the 10th lowest unemployment rate among all occupations. Unlike many other professions, employment as a farmer may not guarantee economic stability. Nearly three-quarters of farmers were self-employed. And because farming equipment is expensive, and the overall investment necessary to be a farmer is very high, leaving the profession can be virtually impossible. The BLS forecasts a more than 19% decline in farming employment by 2022, one of only two low-unemployment professions where the BLS projected a decrease in employment.

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9. Postal service mail carriers
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.9% (tied-eighth highest)
> Median annual pay, 2012: $56,490
> Employment change, 2012-2022: -26.8%

Many Americans and businesses now favor email and other forms of electronic communication over snail mail — that is, delivery by the postal system. This partly explains the 26.8% projected decline in employment among mail carriers, one of the worst forecasts reviewed. Yet, less than 1% of postal workers were unemployed last year. Postal service mail carriers are clearly still largely indispensable to the transport of tangible items. It is also a major presence in the United States. The U.S. Postal Service handles 40% of all mail globally, and it employs one of the largest civilian workforces in the world. The U.S. Postal Service reported 2013 revenue of $67.3 billion, an increase from the year before. However, the USPS remains unprofitable, having posted a $5.3 billion operating loss in its latest fiscal year.

8. Speech-language pathologists
> Unemployment rate, 2014: 0.9% (tied-eighth highest)
> Median annual pay, 2012: $69,870
> Employment change, 2012-2022: 19.4%

As for most occupations with the lowest unemployment rates, speech-language pathologists had higher incomes than the median salary in most professions. A typical speech-language pathologist earned nearly $70,000 in 2012. Employment is also projected to grow by nearly 20% by 2022, one of the better growth rates reviewed. Speech pathologists address communication disorders in children and adults brought on by brain injury, developmental delay, emotional problems, and a range of other causes.