Special Report

Jobs With the Best (and Worst) Job Security

10. Construction laborers
> Unemployment rate:
11.5%
> Labor force: 1,863,000
> Industry: Construction and extraction
> Median annual wage: $31,090

With nearly 1.6 million workers employed in the field, construction jobs are among the most common in the United States. While many construction jobs call for some degree of skill and substantial physical labor, formal education is not typically required as most workers learn their skills on the job. The occupation employs more people than all but a handful of others in the country, and a relatively large share of construction workers are unemployed. About 214,000, or nearly 12% of all construction workers in the country, are currently looking for work.

Unemployment in the field may decline in the near future as the pace of job growth for construction is expected to be much higher than the average pace across all professions over the next decade.

9. Crossing guards
> Unemployment rate:
11.8%
> Labor force: 65,000
> Industry: Protective services
> Median annual wage: $24,750

The majority of crossing guards — more than two-thirds — are employed by local governments to manage difficult intersections. The next largest share work at elementary and secondary. On the whole, protective service occupations, which includes police officers and firefighters, have a low unemployment rate of just 4%. The occupation’s nearly 12% unemployment rate may be partially the result of schools not employing crossing guards year-round. The typical crossing guard earns less than $25,000 a year.

8. Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers
> Unemployment rate:
12.3%
> Labor force: 178,000
> Industry: Construction and extraction
> Median annual wage: $37,380

Like several job classes in the construction sector, a large share of carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers are unemployed. Roughly a quarter of these individuals are self-employed, and many move from job to job. The potential uncertainty of obtaining a new contract may explain why more than 12% of these individuals are unemployed.

7. Tax preparers
> Unemployment rate:
12.7%
> Labor force: 125,000
> Industry: Business and financial operations
> Median annual wage: $35,990

Just as growing demand for health services in the United State makes health professions relatively secure for jobholders, the eternal presence of taxes means the demand for tax preparation assistance will likely remain consistent at the very least. Unlike many health-related occupations, however, tax preparer jobs are not especially secure. Nearly 13% of tax preparers are unemployed, one of the highest unemployment rates of any job in the nation. Accountants and auditors are not included in this occupation.

6. Graders and sorters, agricultural products
> Unemployment rate:
13.4%
> Labor force: 112,000
> Industry: Farming, fishing, and forestry
> Median annual wage: $19,910

Graders and sorters separate and categorize unprocessed food and other agricultural products by their quality, weight, and type. The BLS category of farming, fishing, and forestry occupations has the highest unemployment rate of any industry, and graders and sorters have the highest unemployment rate within the industry. Like many jobs with high unemployment, those working in these positions earn significantly less than the typical American worker. The median annual wage for graders and sorters of agricultural products is less than $20,000, compared to the median of all occupations of $35,540.