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Published: Dec 16, 2022 4 min read
A waiter carries three plates from the kitchen at a Mexican Restaurant

Between reports of corporate layoffs and forecasts anticipating a recession early next year, it’s no surprise that most Americans are feeling on edge about their job security.

Some workers, however, can breathe a sigh of relief, according to a Payscale report ranking which jobs are least likely to feel the impact of an economic downturn. The compensation data and software company determined its list of most "recession-proof" jobs by salary growth using employee-reported data from more than 1.1 million workers in the U.S.

According to Payscale, people working in food service, banking, emergency response, advertising and sales strategy are some of the most unlikely to get laid off in the event of a recession. Payscale says the jobs listed are stable thanks to staffing troubles amid labor scarcity and increased competition.

“Despite the possibility of an economic downturn, the labor market remains tight, forcing employers to pay top dollar to attract and retain talent for the most sought-after roles,” Lexi Clarke, vice president of People at Payscale, said in a news release.

The report also found that the top 10 positions on the list saw significant wage growth this year, with compensation increasing 14% to 30%.

These are the most "recession-proof" roles moving into the new year.

  1. Waiter/waitress
    Median pay: $19,900 annually
    Salary growth: 30%
  2. Private banker
    Median pay: $93,000
    Salary growth: 25%
  3. Media director
    Median pay: $108,000
    Salary growth: 23%
  4. Police, fire or ambulance dispatcher
    Median pay: $44,500
    Salary growth: 19%
  5. Sales consultant
    Median pay: $56,800
    Salary growth: 18%
  6. Microbiologist
    Median pay: $59,900
    Salary growth: 16%
  7. Marketing and business development director
    Median pay: $119,000
    Salary growth: 16%
  8. Dock worker
    Median pay: $41,100
    Salary growth: 15%
  9. EKG technician
    Median pay: $40,400
    Salary growth: 15%
  10. Installation technician
    Median pay: $46,800
    Salary growth: 15%

Labor market outlook for 2023

Outside the tech industry, the threat of a recession has had a much softer impact on wages and unemployment than economists expected. The Labor Department reported that unemployment remained low in November at 3.7%, the same as the previous month.

Wages were also up 5.1% year-to-year, suggesting that an economic downturn probably won’t have the devastating toll on the labor market that Americans experienced in connection with the Great Recession in 2008.

Overall, workers probably won’t have to relinquish all the power they’ve gained over the past few years. Though the Great Resignation may seem like it's winding down, Payscale says companies that ask employees to return to in-person office work are at risk of losing talent, even with the potential of layoffs.

“Workplace flexibility has been shown to improve employee satisfaction, so rescinding this perk can be a major factor in employees’ decisions to resign,” Clarke said in the news release.

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