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10 Jobs That Are ‘Recession-Proof’

These essential workers and office jobs will still be in demand during a downturn, one study finds

spinner image a female waitress in a casual button up shirt leans against a counter
According to a recent study, waiters and waitresses will remain in high demand if the U.S. economy dips into a recession.

While there are millions of jobs available now, that could quickly change if the economy falls into a recession. When employers need to lower their overall expenses, one fast way to do so is to stop hiring or to lay off workers. Even though the nation is not currently in a recession, an extended period of decline in economic activity that impacts businesses and consumers alike, some high-profile companies such as Amazon, Meta (previously known as Facebook), Pepsi and Walmart already have announced thousands of layoffs.

Which types of jobs might dodge layoffs if the nation does experience an economic downturn? Payscale, a compensation data and software firm, recently analyzed its surveys of workers to find which ones have seen the largest salary increases in 2022. “These jobs can be considered ‘recession-proof’ because employers are spending more to fill these roles due to labor scarcity and increased competition,” the report says. “The jobs on the list tell a story, with a mix of essential service jobs and office jobs, where the opportunity to continue working remote is also part of what is driving the market.”

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The following 10 jobs, ranked in order of the largest 2022 salary increases, are pulled from Payscale’s list of recession-proof jobs. Clicking on the “find jobs” links will take you to a search of current openings in that field posted on the AARP Job Board.

1. Waiter/waitress/server

Median wage: $9.57 per hour

Salary growth: 30 percent

Find waiter/waitress jobs

A recession likely would be less disruptive for restaurants than the first two years of the pandemic were. With fewer customers willing to eat and talk indoors around strangers, many restaurants switched entirely to takeout or delivery orders, a move that led to layoffs for many waiters. With appetites for dining out increasing, demand for skilled waiters and waitresses is bouncing back.

2. Police, fire or ambulance dispatcher

Median wage: $21.39 per hour

Salary growth: 19 percent

Find dispatcher jobs

No matter what’s happening with the economy, there will always be emergencies. Most 911 dispatcher jobs don’t require a degree, but you generally have to undergo a rigorous training program affiliated with the city, county or state agency you hope to work for. Many applicants also must pass an exam before they are hired.

3. Sales consultant

Median wage: $27.31 per hour

Salary growth: 18 percent

Find sales consultant jobs

Demand for sales consultants currently is booming and could continue during an economic downturn. If employers decide to lay off some of their sales staff, consultants could help employers fill in the gaps. This field also offers opportunities for flexible contract work.

4. Marketing and business development director

Median wage: $57.21 per hour

Salary growth: 16 percent

Find marketing and development director jobs 

In some cases, higher level positions such as directors of marketing and development are less likely to be cut when employers make decisions about layoffs. Heading into 2023, these positions look particularly “recession-proof,” given how tough these positions already are to fill.

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5. Bookkeeping, accounting or auditing clerk

Median wage: $22.74 per hour

Salary growth: 15 percent

Find bookkeeping and accounting jobs

Bookkeeping and accounting are professions in which the demand for workers likely won’t shrink during a recession. Indeed, companies that are most affected by a recession might have more need for accounting clerks and bookkeepers. If you have experience or training in these fields, you might have your choice of contract or work-from-home options during an economic downturn.

6. Tanker truck driver

Median wage: $27.93 per hour

Salary growth: 15 percent

Find truck driver jobs

Employers are still eager to hire truck drivers, and a recession likely would not decrease that demand. Commercial truck driving is a job that tends to be popular with older workers. The average age of these workers is 48, well above the national average for all workers, which is 41, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

7. Graphic design manager

Median wage: $33.51 per hour

Salary growth: 14 percent

Find graphic design jobs

If an economic downturn does occur, employers could turn to freelance or contract workers to handle some of the duties previously filled by workers who have been laid off. When that happens, managers who work well with freelancers become even more valuable. That’s particularly true for graphic design, where the need for workers can fluctuate significantly.

8. Pastry chef

Median wage: $20.87 per hour

Salary growth: 14 percent

Find chef jobs

Payscale’s list picks the pastry chef specialty as the tastiest option in culinary jobs, but demand is high for all types of chefs. According to the BLS, the total number of chef jobs available is expected to grow by 15 percent by 2031.

9. Education coordinator

Median wage: $24.90 per hour

Salary growth: 14 percent

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These jobs aren’t limited to just schools. Education coordinators design training to help people learn new skills. While some of these employees — also called instructional coordinators — do work in schools, many others work in hospitals, large companies or nonprofit organizations.

10. Estimator, automobile damage

Median wage: $28.99 per hour

Salary growth: 14 percent

Find insurance estimator jobs

With fewer people on the road during the first two pandemic years, many drivers started to drive more recklessly. That may be part of why traffic accidents are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of traffic deaths jumped 22 percent when the first quarter of 2022 is compared with 2019. Those crashes have increased the demand for insurance estimators, with hiring likely to continue even during a possible economic downturn.

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