Are Recession-Proof Jobs Also Disappearing?

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Some jobs may not sound glamorous, but they may be more recession-proof than others. Look in these industries: health care, computers, teaching, office management.


This is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand. Certain industries used to be considered recession-proof. Well, not anymore. Joining us to talk about this is Day to Day's personal finance contributor, Michelle Singletary. Michelle, are there any recession-proof jobs out there anymore?

MICHELLE SINGLETARY: I don't think there are. I mean, most of us know that our job could away at any day. And we used to say, if you were a nurse, you could always get your job, but you know, there are big cutbacks across the board in every industry. But there are some jobs that you can hold on better in a recession. For example, you know, in a recession, if people get sick, they still have to go see health professionals. And so, you know, those jobs are not going to go away completely. And so, there are some jobs that you can sort of weather the recession a little bit better.

Computer system administrators - because we know we are all connected and we need people behind those computers to make sure they run properly. Teachers - you know, we got to send our rug rats to school, and so those positions are going to be there. They may not be as many, but they're going to be there. Physical therapist, dental hygienist, actually. The dental industry is an area that tends to be a better recession-proof than some other jobs.

BRAND: So if you've been laid off, you need to find work right away, what's out there? Where should you look?

SINGLETARY: You might have to go completely separate from what you've always been doing, but look at your skills - office management, for example. Some of the traditional jobs that people fall back on during a recession, like bartending, waitressing and retail, we all know are going away because consumers are not spending. So you want to look at, you know, be creative.

Medical assistants, if you've got, you know, a background in office management and you're really good about files and things like that, you might want to look around and see if people need someone to help with the record keeping, those kinds of jobs. Teaching assistant, you can get those kinds of jobs and then still train. There are lots of jobs where they'll do on-the-job training. You're going to have to look outside of your box in this tough economy.

BRAND: So a lot of people are thinking, well, maybe this is a good opportunity to switch gears, take some time, look around, find a better job. But then, you know, in terms of the economic science, it's not looking like it's getting any better, so should you just basically take the first job that comes up?

SINGLETARY: No. It depends on your financial situation. That's why it's key to have that three to six months' living expenses so that you have the freedom if you lose your job to have time to look for the right job for you. If you are just broke, and it's a matter of paying the utilities and rent, then you may have to take whatever is available that will cover that. So if you got a cash cushion, you can afford to take a little time and find the right position. If you don't, you have to pay the bills because the problem is people wait, and they don't take any job, and they build up more credit card debt. They live off of credit. You do not want to do that. That is just going to make things worse.

BRAND: Michelle Singletary writes The Color of Money column for the Washington Post, and she's on our show every Tuesday. Michelle, thank you.

SINGLETARY: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from