Some Jobs Are Recession Proof — Certain Sectors Don't Take a Big Hit

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author
By

Aug. 22 2022, Published 8:51 a.m. ET

Recessions are a normal part of the economic cycle. While the U.S. economy might not be in a recession based on the NBER’s (National Bureau of Economic Research) recession definition, it did contract in the first two quarters of 2022 and meet the globally accepted definition of a recession.

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In a recession, while economic growth stalls, there are widespread job losses. Most of the sectors in an economy are impacted negatively in a recession. This has left many asking whether any jobs are recession-proof.

The U.S. job market has been strong.

The U.S. economy added over half a million new jobs in July, which was twice what analysts were expecting. The unemployment rate is also at a five-decade low of 3.5 percent. However, trouble has been brewing in some sectors, including tech. Even the Fed thinks that the U.S. unemployment rate will rise in the back half of the year.

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There are some recession-proof jobs.

While some sectors like mortgages, construction, travel and tourism, and automotive are among the worst affected by a recession, some jobs are largely recession-proof. These jobs include:

  • Federal workers
  • Defense and law enforcement
  • Healthcare
  • Utilities
  • Education
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Federal jobs are among the most sought-after recession-proof jobs. While companies fire workers in a recession to lower their costs, federal and state employees are largely immune. Also, defense and law enforcement jobs are recession-proof.

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The healthcare sector is recession proof.

The healthcare sector is mostly recession-proof. While people do tend to delay elective surgeries in an economic downturn, healthcare is one expense that is tough to cut down on. Within the healthcare sector also, nurses remain in high demand even during a recession. Similarly, the demand for mental healthcare professions can actually rise in a recession as more people seek aid.

Pharmacist jobs are also recession-proof, and so are child-care jobs. In the healthcare space, even veterinarians don’t see much drop in business during a recession. Falling sick is agnostic of economic growth, both for humans as well as pets.

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People working in utility services don't face much of a risk.

The demand for utility services is more or less stable during a recession. Think of it this way, people don’t start cutting down on water and electricity usage in an economic downturn. Therefore, jobs in these industries are mostly recession-proof. Similarly, jobs in the education sector are also immune from a recession. So, teachers and professors don’t generally lose their jobs in a recession.

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During a recession, many people look to expand their skills after losing a job. This might mean more demand for workers in the higher education industry.

Is the U.S. economy headed for a recession in 2022?

U.S. economic indicators have been mixed, and the state of the economy varies depending on who you ask. However, the growth is indeed coming down and even the job market might soften in the coming months. Business leaders are also worried about the economy. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk has had “super bad feelings” about the economy, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase has warned of “something worse” than a recession.

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