Whether you're employed, unemployed or a graduate preparing to enter the workforce, you've probably worried about the job market. There's some good news, however: the unemployment rate has dropped to single digits, and economists are predicting the numbers to drop as low as 8.5% by 2012. This "rosy" outlook is based on an expected decline in the participation rate - that's economists' way of saying that fewer people will hunt for jobs. It's the baby boomer generation, those people born between 1946 and 1964, and their approaching retirement that are causing this shift in the job market, which is good news if you're looking for a job. Check out these five industries that are ready to retire. (High-dividend stocks make excellent bear market investments, but the payouts aren't a sure thing. To learn more, refer to Dividend Yield For The Downturn.)

IN PICTURES: Top 7 Biggest Bank Failures

  1. Utilities
    We all understand how important utilities are in our day-to-day lives, and it's also an industry with a growing number of retiring workers. Although the industry as a whole will see a decline in available jobs due to modernization and higher efficiency, a whopping 53% of utility workers are over the age of 45. The utilities industry covers a wide range of jobs; a power plant operator can expect a $62,000 starting pay, with those at the top of their career earning $96,000. On-the-job training is a vital component in the utility industry, so those who step up now have the prospect of a secure career.

  2. Production
    Even with all the outsourcing overseas, we still make things right here at home, and need production workers to do the job. Machinists in particular will be in demand as the experienced baby boomers retire. Although job numbers are expected to decline for machinists, retirees are leaving a employment opening for experienced workers. You'll have to work your way up in this career with a starting pay of $32,000, but once you're an experienced machinist at the top of your game, you can earn $68,000 - without a college degree.

  3. Education
    Education is a job sector that has weathered the recession well, and jobs for teachers are expected to grow a healthy 13% by 2018. For a large boomer employment gap, you'll want to look outside the classroom, and into the office: prospects for education administrators are better than average. You'll need a master's or doctorate to get ahead in this field, but once you do, earnings for elementary or secondary school education administrators start at around $44,000, and top out at over $100,000. (Don't learn these lessons the hard way. Read on to make sure you can weather an unstable market. See 7 Lessons To Learn From A Market Downturn.)

  4. Transportation
    Have you always wanted to be a pilot? Now may be a good time to live your dream, because this job sector is expected to see a larger-than-average retirement exodus. Pilots face a mandatory retirement age of 65, leaving an employment gap as the boomer generation leaves the profession. Competition is fierce in this field, and you'll need lots of flying hours to make the grade - but earnings start at $37,100, and can go to a hefty $159,000 for those able to stomach the turbulence.

IN PICTURES: Top 8 Estate Planning Mistakes

    Are you someone who can fix just about anything? You may want to look for a career in maintenance and repair, a large job sector expected to feel the pinch as experience baby boomers retire. Experience and licensing drive careers in this industry, so expect to work your way up - and learn from those experienced workers before they leave the workforce. Starting pay for electricians, for example, is $33,000, with top electricians earning $82,000. The highest earnings in the installation industry go to those who specialize and acquire licensing.

    The Bottom Line
    For the best chance at sliding into a boomer retiree's seat, look for jobs in sectors that require trade skills that are learned on the job, like manufacturing and utilities, and those with secure pension plans, like education. If you're entering a new career, look to these soon-retiring baby boomers for guidance and training, so you'll be ready to promote once they're ready to enjoy their golden years. The retiring boomer generation makes up more than 25% of the population - prepare for this shift in the labor market, and you could be in a secure career for decades to come. (Find out where to turn when looking to invest in a tumultuous market. Check out Industries That Thrive On Recession.)

    Related Articles
    1. Budgeting

      Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do Immediately

      If you’ve lost your job, shoring up your finances as best you can will make it easier to get back on your feet again when that next position rolls around.
    2. Credit & Loans

      Top 5 Reasons Why People Go Bankrupt

      The biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States is medical expenses.
    3. Economics

      3 Economic Challenges France Faces in 2016

      Learn about the three most significant economic challenges facing France in 2016. How will France implement reforms to improve its GDP and reduce unemployment?
    4. Economics

      3 Economic Challenges Italy Faces in 2016

      Learn how Italy's economic problems are ingrained and systemic. Unless Italy implements drastic economic fixes, 2016 will be another year of struggle.
    5. Economics

      An Introduction to Government Loans

      Government loans further policymakers' efforts to create positive social outcomes by offering timely access to capital for qualified candidates.
    6. Investing

      Is the Number of Workers in the U.S. Declining?

      The number of workers in the U.S. labor force is declining. What caused it and what is the solution?
    7. Investing

      How Labor Force Participation Rate Affects U.S. Unemployment

      While a falling unemployment rate sounds like a good thing, it can actually be indicative of people leaving the labor force because they can't find a job.
    8. Financial Advisors

      Top Tips for the Recently Unemployed

      When a major life change such as a job loss comes up the advice and counsel of a trusted financial advisor can prove to be invaluable.
    9. Budgeting

      Not the Valedictorian? You Can Still Find a College Scholarship

      You don't have to be the class valedictorian to get a scholarship. Discover sources that use other criteria to award educational funds.
    10. Investing

      America’s Labor Market: Hidden Distortions and Uncertain Forecasts

      Employment reports released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have a profound impact on political, business, consumer, and investor behavior.
    1. What are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

      Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at Bankrate.com, TaxACT.com and Moneychimp.com. Determining ... Read Full Answer >>
    2. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

      The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
    3. How does comprehensive income get reported on my 1040?

      As of 2015, on the standard IRS Form 1040, your comprehensive or total income is calculated through lines 7-22. This is different ... Read Full Answer >>
    4. What is the key difference between the participation rate and the unemployment rate?

      The participation rate and unemployment rate are economic metrics used to gauge the health of the U.S. job market. The key ... Read Full Answer >>
    5. How can minimum wages contribute to a market failure?

      The minimum wage acts like a price floor on labor, reducing the supply of jobs available to a level below the market-clearing ... Read Full Answer >>
    6. Do rising unemployment rates tend to increase or decrease investor sentiment and ...

      Rising unemployment rates tend to decrease investor sentiment and consumer confidence. Unemployment is one of the most important ... Read Full Answer >>
    Hot Definitions
    1. Liquidation Margin

      Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
    2. Black Swan

      An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
    3. Inverted Yield Curve

      An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
    4. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

      An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
    5. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

      A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
    Trading Center