8 Industries with the most recession-proof jobs

If you’re just entering the workforce, you probably remember the 2008 financial crisis and the pandemic-related financial strife of 2020, so you know the value of a recession-proof job. 

While 100% recession-proof jobs and industries don’t exist, there are certain fields that take less of a hit during a recession because their services are always needed—sometimes even more so during tough times. Here are eight industries that offer strong job security during economic downturns.

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Table of contents

1. Health care2. Public safety3. Education4. Public utility5. Funeral services6. Financial services7. Grocery8. Legal

1. Health care

People get sick and need medical care no matter what the economy is doing, so the demand for jobs in health care is pretty stable, even during a recession. If anything, an economic downturn can be a stressor that takes a toll on people’s physical and mental health which in turn increases demand for jobs in the medical field.

And it’s not only doctors and registered nurses that are needed. A physician assistant, physical therapists, home health aides, and non-medical staff, including receptionists and janitors working in hospitals or clinics can expect good job security.

2. Public safety

Public safety will always be a priority for city and state governments. Though the data is shaky on whether recessions cause a spike in crime (crime rates fell during the Great Recession), the common assumption that job losses can be a catalyst for desperate individuals to turn to crime makes it unlikely that law enforcement budgets will be cut during an economic downturn. 

Similar to police officers, firefighters and ambulance drivers can expect good job security. You never know when an emergency will occur, so public safety workers must always be employed and at the ready.

3. Education

Schools don’t close during recessions. Children will need an education no matter the status of the gross domestic product (GDP). So while school teachers, particularly at public schools, may not make a high average salary, they can typically count on keeping their jobs during a time of economic strife. 

Teaching is also a career that usually provides the opportunity to join a union which helps protect job security. In the realm of higher education, professors can achieve tenure, which protects them from being fired without cause.

4. Public utility

Public utility workers enjoy stable job security because many of the services they provide are essential. People still need electricity, gas, water, waste management, and internet service during an economic downturn. Whether you’re employed by the local government (such as a waste collector) or by a private company (such as a web technician), you’re unlikely to lose your job when you’re responsible for supplying these necessities.

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5. Funeral services

Like emergencies, school, and electricity, death does not wait for the country’s economy to improve. As long as people are dying, their loved ones will need the services of a funeral home. This means funeral directors, who help the families of the deceased through choosing a coffin or urn and organizing a funeral service, can expect to stay in business regardless of what the economy is doing.

6. Financial services

Accountants are there to assist with another life certainty: taxes. Certified public accountants and auditors can always expect business during tax season. 

Even beyond taxes, recessions are a time of high demand for anyone working in financial services. Whether you’re an actuary analyzing which business expenses can be cut or a debt management counselor helping a family pay off their loans, people will need your help to make it through the tough times.

7. Grocery

When it’s time to cut back after (or in anticipation of) a job loss or pay cut, luxuries like dining out are often the first thing to be cut from the family budget. During an economic downturn, people cook at home more, which means they’re buying more groceries. 

Whether you own a grocery store or work as a cashier, you can rest assured your job is safe during a recession. Though keep in mind this won’t necessarily be true for more expensive health food stores or boutique grocers, as patrons trying to cut back may choose to switch to a cheaper store.

While some lawyers are just as likely to lose their jobs in an economic downturn as anyone else, there are certain areas of the law that are very stable or even in higher demand during a recession. Can’t swing law school? Courts and law firms also need clerks, paralegals, and other support staff to operate. 

Like a lot of government work, the courts don’t slow down when the GDP falls. That means that anyone working in criminal law, including judges, prosecutors, private and public defenders, and their staff can expect steady employment regardless of what the economy is doing. And when times are tough, divorce and bankruptcy lawyers will always have plenty to do. 

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