Where to Find Jobs During the Downturn


The economy has shed over five million jobs. in the past year, with more than half of the layoffs coming in the past four months. But despite another grim employment report for March, there are a few bright spots in the job market. Some industries are hiring more workers than they're firing.

Steer clear of the transportation, financial services and hotel industries, which have been hit hard by the stagnant economy. Instead, check out employers affiliated with health care, the government and education. Here's a rundown on how these industries are bucking the trend.

Health care: The health care industry has reported a net employment increase for 11 of the past 12 months. March was no exception, when the industry experienced a net increase of 13,500 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So where are the jobs? The biggest gains came from nursing care facilities, which added 3,000 jobs in March, and doctors' offices, which hired 3,200 new workers.

Certain regions, such as the South, are hotter than others. Jennifer Grasz, a spokeswoman for CareerBuilder.com, says aging Baby Boomers are migrating to warmer climates, causing demand for medical services to rise.

Government: The federal government added 8,400 jobs in March. More new jobs are expected thanks to a boost in federal spending courtesy of the recent stimulus package. The East Coast -- which has a relatively high concentration of federal employees and government institutions -- has benefited most from increases in hiring, Grasz says.

However, federal spending might not trickle down to state and local governments, which have been forced to slash spending to close budget gaps. In March, these two areas posted net losses of 3,000 and 9,000 jobs, respectively, according to BLS data.

Education: Despite a loss of 6,800 jobs in March, the education industry has experienced a net gain since November.

"More people are going back to school," explains Grasz. "Individuals want to make themselves more appealing and attractive to prospective employers, and the increase in demand causes a boost in the call for teachers as well as admissions staff and support personnel."

The Midwest, in particular, has shown an uptick in education jobs. That area has lost more manufacturing jobs, forcing workers to develop new skills through training programs.

Construction: Homebuilders were going gangbusters earlier this decade, but the collapse of the residential market has forced the industry to shed more than a million jobs in the last two years.

Even though the housing market is in the tank, the construction industry isn't dead. The recent stimulus package has earmarked billions of dollars for road building, energy upgrades and the development of high-speed rail lines. While it might take some time for the stimulus funds to trickle down to even the most shovel-ready projects, those projects will require a lot of hands.

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