The U.S. unemployment rate reached 10% in October 2009, the highest since 1983, and the peak since the Great Recession ended in June 2009. Since then, unemployment has fallen steadily to its current level of 4.9%.
Not all the nation’s industries have recovered at the same pace. Increased job opportunities and wage hikes have been far more common in some professions than in others. Just 0.1% of Americans who currently work or previously worked as dentists are unemployed, the lowest occupational unemployment rate in the country. By contrast, 26.1% of actors are out of a job, the highest unemployment rate in the country.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 24/7 Wall St. identified the 25 jobs with the highest unemployment rates and the 25 jobs with the lowest unemployment rates.
According to Emy Sok, economist at the Division of Labor Force Statistics at the BLS, “You can look at an unemployment rate as an indicator of demand.” Many of the professions offering the highest job security are in fields the BLS projects continued employment growth. Health sector positions, for example, are projected to grow considerably faster through 2024 than the national average employment growth. Eleven of the 25 occupations with the lowest unemployment rates are health-related professions. No other industry is better-represented among professions with low unemployment.
For many of the occupations with the lowest job security, on the other hand, the applicant pool tends to be far larger than the demand for these workers. More people compete for these positions because “there is a lower threshold for skills involved,” Sok said. Jobs at the other end of the spectrum, such as legal professions or occupations in the medical field, require more specialized training and therefore there is a higher barrier to entry, Sok explained.
Older Americans are not just more likely to consume health services, but they are also more commonly employed in health professions — or any job requiring greater experience and training — compared to younger Americans. Younger members of the workforce are far more likely to be unemployed than older Americans. As Sok suggested, the rapid growth of the nation’s older population may itself account for the rapid decline in unemployment in recent years.
The different training and educational requirements of high and low unemployment professions also explains the wage disparities. Jobs with low unemployment levels tend to require greater levels of education and, perhaps as a result, tend to pay far better than occupations with less job security. Of the 25 jobs with the lowest unemployment rates, the median annual wage exceeds the national figure in all but one case. The median annual wage for workers in only five of the 25 jobs with the highest unemployment rates exceeds the national annual median of $35,540.
To identify the 25 jobs with the best and worst job security, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2015 unemployment rates for 310 occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For statistics purposes, we only considered occupations with a labor force greater than 65,000. Unemployed members of an occupational labor force need to have been last employed in this occupation prior to unemployment. Employment projections from 2014 through 2024 came from the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), published annually by the BLS. Median annual wage, as well as hourly rate when applicable, also came from the BLS. Annual wages exclude wages of part-time workers in a given profession.
These are the jobs with the highest (and lowest) job security.