Special Report

Jobs With the Best (and Worst) Job Security

15. Computer operators
> Unemployment rate:
> Labor force: 77,000
> Industry: Office and administrative support occupations
> Median annual wage: $39,590

The computer operator classification was more relevant before the advent of the personal computer, when mainframe computers required significant maintenance and attention. The role of a computer operator today is somewhat different and mostly consists of monitoring error messages and data entry. About one in every 10 computer operators is unemployed, a figure that may increase as employment in the field is expected to decline by 19% over the next decade.

14. Grounds maintenance workers
> Unemployment rate:
> Labor force: 1,508,000
> Industry: Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance
> Median annual wage: $24,810

More than 1.3 million people currently earn a living as grounds and maintenance workers, making it one of the largest occupations in the country. With 159,000 unemployed people who last worked as groundskeepers and maintenance workers currently looking for a job, it is also the second most common occupation with an unemployment rate in excess of 10%. According to the BLS, while unemployment in the occupation is relatively high, opportunities for employment are expected to increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024, roughly in line with the average occupation growth rate. These occupations are often seasonal, which may explain the high unemployment rate.

13. Cutting workers
> Unemployment rate:
> Labor force: 72,000
> Industry: Production
> Median annual wage: $30,650

The cutting worker classification encompasses a variety of occupations, from cutting and trimming manufactured items such as carpet or glass to operating machines that cut materials such as tobacco, rubber, or cork. Roughly 11% of the 72,000 workers in the field are unemployed, one of the highest unemployment rates of any occupation in the country. By contrast, unemployment in the broader production industry is only 5.7% and it is an even lower 4.7% across all occupations.

12. Counter, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop attendants
> Unemployment rate:
> Labor force: 263,000
> Industry: Food preparation and service
> Median annual wage: $18,740

Like many occupations with high unemployment, a position as an attendant at a concession stand or eatery pays relatively little and requires effectively no specialized education. These individuals, which include wait staff, as well as counter attendants, earn an average hourly wage of just $9.50. These factors, as well as the seasonal nature of many of these jobs, likely contribute to the relatively high unemployment rate of more than one in 10 attendants.

11. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
> Unemployment rate:
> Labor force: 109,000
> Industry: Transportation and material moving
> Median annual wage: $33,660

Unemployment is relatively high among garbage and recycling collection workers. Roughly 11.4% of workers in the field are unemployed, a much larger share than the 4.7% unemployment rate across all jobs in the United States. In some parts of the country, garbage collection is a coveted job. In New York City, 90,000 people applied for a municipal sanitation job in 2014. Only about 500 were hired, an acceptance rate of only 0.5%. While the typical garbage collector in the country earns only $33,660 a year, a garbage collector in New York City can expect to earn $47,371 in his or her first year on the job.