Worried About Your Job? What Sectors Are at Risk
As layoffs accelerate and job creation slows, it's no wonder that more Americans are worried about job security.
A recent survey by Rutgers University found that 15 percent expected layoffs at their company over the next 12 months, while fully one-third feared they might be dismissed.
The unemployment rate has been at 6.1 percent for two months now, a four-year high, is expected to climb throughout the rest of 2007 and most of 2008.
Corporate layoffs in the third quarter totaled 287,142, the most since the fourth quarter of 2005, according to Chicago-based outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
"With layoffs mounting and spreading out from just the financial services and housing sectors into other parts of the economy—and as workers see that their own companies reporting poor third quarter results—apprehension about their own jobs is increasing," says John Challenger, the firm's CEO.
So how safe is your job? That depends on multiple factors, including the industry you're in, your employer's financial picture, how much you're valued by your boss and the length of time you've been employed by your company.
There are, however, certain sectors that are more vulnerable than others. Here's a snapshot of some of them.
If your job is even loosely related to real estate, particularly residential, you've no doubt experienced a rough ride since the housing bubble burst. And you can expect more of the same in the months ahead.
Indeed, the housing recession is single-handedly responsible for sending the credit markets into crisis following an unprecedented run up in home prices between 2001 and 2005.
As such, employers engaged in everything from construction to development to mortgage lending to real estate sales are experiencing widespread layoffs.
Construction companies alone have shed 557,000 jobs since its September 2006 peak, with nearly three quarters of that decline occurring since October 2007, the Labor Department reports.
The outlook is equally grim for those employed in the financial services sector, including investment bankers, mortgage brokers, loan processors, stock traders, analysts and bank tellers.
Analysts at Celent, a financial research firm, predicted in April that the U.S. commercial banking industry, which includes most companies that lend or collect deposits, would shed a staggering 200,000 of its 2 million jobs over the next 18 months, due largely to subprime lending pains.
Economic weakness and Wall Street losses, of course, have also led to significant layoffs among many of the nation's leading investment banks.
As of late July, the number of announced job cuts in the financial sector had already topped 100,000 for 2008, on track to easily outpace last year's job cuts of 153,000, Challenger Gray & Christmas reports.
By comparison, financial firms shed roughly 50,000 jobs each year during 2006 and 2005.
You're in the hot seat if you work in entertainment or hospitality, as well, industries that have watched their profit margins shrink as consumers keep a tighter reign on discretionary spending.
Hotel managers and staff, chefs and waitresses, and anyone engaged in the travel services industry, including travel agents, all facing a challenging year ahead.
White collar workers—like managers and clerks—and those in food services are all being increasingly affected, says John Schmitt, senior economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
In July alone, the latest month for which data are available, Challenger Gray & Christmas reports job cuts in the entertainment and leisure industry totaled nearly 11,000 nationwide.