A recession isn't inevitable — but the economic forecast isn't promising, either.
The IMF has declared conditions for the global economy to be "gloomy and uncertain" in its latest report, and expects the economy to grow a mere 3.2% in 2022 before slowing to a 2.9% GDP rate in 2023 — a drop of 0.4 and 0.7 percentage points, respectively, from just three months ago. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points for the second straight meeting in an attempt to bring inflation under control.
Soaring inflation and rising interest rates have only triggered more angst in the labor market: Companies are bracing for an uncertain future with layoffs, hiring freezes and, in some extreme cases, rescinding job offers.
Amidst the chaos, working professionals across the U.S. are fearing the worst: 78% of Americans are worried about losing their job in a potential upcoming recession, a recent Insight Global survey of 1,004 adults found.
While no job is completely immune to economic headwinds, certain roles tend to fare better than others during a downturn.
Here are five of the most "recession-proof" occupations that offer strong job security during economic downturns, according to economists:
- Child-care Workers
- Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
- Court, Municipal and License Clerks
- Mental Health Counselors
Demand for these jobs remains "consistently high" no matter what the state of the economy is, Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, tells CNBC Make It.
While hiring across many industries falls with the markets, each of these occupations added tens of thousands of jobs during the 2009 and 2001 recessions, data from ZipRecruiter and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows.
The jobs that are the "first to go" when a recession hits are the ones that depend on consumer spending and people having copious disposable income, Kory Kantenga, a senior economist at LinkedIn, says.
Retail, restaurants, hotels and real estate are some of the businesses often hurt during a recession because while such services "may enhance our quality of life, they're not necessary to maintain our basic standard of living the way we need education, law enforcement or health care," Kantenga explains.
Jobs in the public sector, including clerks and police officers, have also benefited from increased government spending during past recessions. In fact, past research has shown that the probability of job loss during a recession is higher for private sector workers than for public sector employees at all levels of government.
Other "recession-proof" jobs — nurses, child-care workers and mental health counselors will continue to be high in-demand even during an upcoming recession as coronavirus cases spike throughout the U.S. and people continue to grapple with the mental and physical tolls of the public health crisis, Peter C. Earle, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research, says.
"These jobs are as close to a sure thing as one can expect in a volatile economy," he adds. "They're going to have momentum for quite a while."
Still, if you're considering quitting jobs or switching careers, Earle stresses the importance of exercising extreme caution in your search. "Do not leave, or take a job, unless you're absolutely sure you have something secure waiting for you on the other side," he says. "This is not the time to shuffle jobs."