Special Report

Jobs With the Best (and Worst) Job Security

Perhaps the starkest difference between occupations with high job security and those with relatively low job security is the education level typically required for the position. The increasingly competitive U.S. job market has put a premium on highly specialized skills. Of the jobs with the highest job security for which education data is available, two thirds require some formal post-secondary education — including many that require a master’s degree or a doctorate.

Meanwhile, all but one of the jobs with low job security for which education data is available require at most a high school diploma, and often not even that.

While occupations with high job security more often than not have low unemployment rates due to their highly specialized nature, the reasons for the high unemployment rates among the jobs with the lowest job security are more varied.

One of the most common underlying causes of high unemployment is the high turnover rate in some of these occupations. Occupations like dishwashers and cashiers are often just a stepping stone in a young adult’s career. Other jobs, like grounds maintenance workers, material movers, and agricultural workers often report high turnover due to their highly physical nature.

In other cases, high unemployment rates are attributable to a range of broader market forces, such as technological advances and an oversaturation of workers.

No matter the cause, the low educational requirement in industries with high unemployment means workers are plentiful and often easily replaceable.

Perhaps not surprisingly, occupations with the best job security also tend to provide greater financial compensation. In over half of the jobs with unemployment rates below 1%, the typical worker earns over $50,000 a year. In two of the jobs with the lowest unemployment rates, the median annual wage tops $100,0000.

Conversely, none of the jobs with the highest unemployment rates have a median annual wage exceeding $50,000. In the majority of jobs with poor job security, the typical worker earns less than $30,000 per year.

Jobs with better job security are also more likely to remain in high demand in the coming years. According the the BLS, total employment in the United States is projected to rise by 7.0% between 2016 and 2026. Of the 24 jobs with the best job security and for which employment growth projections are available, 15 either match or exceed the 7.0% total job growth expectations — including 10 with double digit projected growth and four in which employment is projected to increase by over 20%.

Ten-year employment growth projections are lower than 7.0% in the majority of occupations with the highest unemployment rates.

To identify the 30 jobs with the best job security and the 30 jobs with the worst job security, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2017 unemployment rates for 363 occupations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In keeping with BLS publication standards, we only considered occupations with a labor force of 50,000 or more. Unemployed members of an occupational labor force need to have been last employed in this occupation prior to unemployment. Employment projections from 2016 through 2026 came from the BLS’ Employment Projections program. Typical entry-level education requirement and median annual wage also came from the BLS. Annual wages exclude those of part-time workers in a given profession.

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