Careers in Crisis: Three Industries Hit Hardest By Job Losses

By Amy Bell | February 11, 2010 AAA
Careers in Crisis: Three Industries Hit Hardest By Job Losses

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its January 2010 Employment Situation Report in February, and although it is better than what analysts had predicted, the news is not great. Based on the report, the U.S. lost another 20,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate inched down by just a 0.3 percentage point to 9.7 percent. That means 14.8 million Americans are still out of work. (Preparation can help you land on your feet after getting the "old heave-ho". Read Planning For Unemployment.)
To offer some perspective, a little more than two years ago in December 2007, a total of 7.7 million Americans were unemployed. While 7 million jobless folks is nothing to sneeze at, that relatively small number would be cause for celebration these days. Since the Great Recession kicked off in 2007, the U.S. has seen more than 7 million jobs go down the drain as the unemployment rate has skyrocketed by 5 percent. (The bear market of 2008 was a game-changer for many investors. Find out what lessons you can take away from it; check out 5 Lessons From The Recession.)

Some Have Given Up Searching For Jobs

To make matters worse, the number of workers unemployed for 27 weeks or longer has soared to a record 6.3 million, up 26% from two years ago. Sadly, 661,000 Americans have simply dropped out of the labor market altogether. Experts say it's because many discouraged workers have simply given up on the fruitless job search.

Obviously, the entire nation is suffering from unemployment aches and pains. However, while some industries have caught an employment cold, others have the full-blown swine flu. Here are three industries that have been hit the hardest by the unemployment crisis, plus a few on the upswing:

Construction: Unemployment Keeps Building
The construction industry has been slammed with record-high job losses in recent months. The industry shed 75,000 jobs in January alone. Most of those cuts came out of non-residential specialty trade contractor positions, which plummeted by 48,000 jobs.

Of course, these massive job losses are nothing new for the construction industry. In December 2009, 53,000 construction jobs vanished. Since the dawn of the Great Recession in December 2007, the construction industry has lost a grand total of 1.9 million jobs.

Construction Workers Should Hold Onto Their Hard Hats
Experts say construction job losses probably won't come to an end anytime soon. That's because the industry's unemployment problems have created somewhat of a domino effect. In this tough economy, building owners can't get financing from banks, which means they can't afford to hire developers. Consequently, developers aren't hiring construction companies to work on building projects. As a result, many construction companies aren't earning enough to pay their workers, which leads to - you guessed it - countless job cuts. That means the construction industry likely won't see employment increases until the economy finally bounces back.

Transportation And Warehousing: On The Road To More Job Losses
While no sector has been hit as hard as the construction industry, the past few months have been no walk in the park for transportation and warehousing workers. In January, these two industries lost a whopping 19,000 jobs after dropping 23,000 jobs in December 2009. This large number may be due to soaring courier and messenger layoffs in addition to a multitude of other factors.

Manufacturing: An Assembly Line Of Layoffs
The American manufacturing industry has been floundering for the past 10 years, as U.S. manufacturers have moved more production overseas in search of low-cost labor. However, the Great Recession has only poured salt into the industry's wounds.

Since the recession began in December 2007, more than 2 million manufacturing jobs have disappeared. The durable goods sector accounted for three-fourths of this decline with 1.6 million losses. During the last six months of 2009, the industry saw an average loss of 41,000 jobs a month. By the third quarter of 2009, production supervisory jobs dropped by 16 percent to 754,000 positions, and rank-and-file assembly jobs also dipped by 16 percent to 876,000.

Losses Leveling Off
Fortunately, it seems that manufacturing employment is finally leveling off after months of sharp job losses. While the industry saw a decrease of 27,000 jobs in December 2009, the employment level was practically unchanged in January.

Also in January, motor vehicles and parts actually gained 23,000 jobs, and the plastics and rubber products sector increased by 6,000 jobs. These gains helped offset job losses in other parts of the manufacturing industry.

Industries On The Upswing
Fortunately, the employment news isn't all so grisly and grim. In January, the temporary help services industry actually saw a 52,000-job increase. This is one industry that has seen significant employment improvements for quite a few months. After hitting rock bottom in September 2009, the temporary help services sector has added 247,000 new jobs.

Health care also saw a jump in jobs in January, and retail is on the rise with 42,000 new jobs. Plus, the federal government added 33,000 jobs, including 9,000 temporary Census 2010 positions.

Don't Give Up On Your Job Search Just Yet
Jobs are popping up out there - you just have to look in the right places. However, according to this latest BLS report, job seekers probably won't have much luck in the construction, transportation and warehousing or manufacturing industries. (Rebounding from a stint of unemployment can be a frustrating thing to do. Learn tips to soften the blow; read How Unemployment Affects You - Even If You're Working.)

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