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America's most-wanted workers

  • Story Highlights
  • Some industries still adding jobs despite weakened economy
  • Federal government added 33,000 jobs so far this year
  • Although the U.S. crude oil production declined, employment in mining rose
  • Food services and drinking places added more than 58,000 workers
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By Kate Lorenz editor
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Education is growing in 2008 -- the industry recently added more than 82,600 jobs.

Education is growing in 2008 -- the industry recently added more than 82,600 jobs.

Though the U.S. economy has softened this year -- headlines warn of mortgage woes, layoffs and escalating gas prices -- there are still jobs out there... you just have to know where to look.

We dug deep into Bureau of Labor Statistics data to find industries that are still adding jobs despite a rising national unemployment rate.

Health care

With a large segment of the population entering retirement age, health care remains strong adding more than 196,000 jobs so far this year. All sectors of the health-care industry experienced growth from January to July 2008.

Ambulatory health-care services (which include doctor's offices, outpatient care centers and home health services) experienced a gain of 106,800 jobs. Hospitals added 71,300 positions, while nursing and residential care facilities grew by 18,200 jobs.

Additionally, social assistance (like substance abuse and mental health counseling) added 18,400 jobs. Indeed, 30 percent of large health-care employers (50 or more employees) expected to expand staffs in the third quarter of 2008, according to and USA Today's "Q3 2008 Job Forecast."


The federal government, which employs more than 1.8 million civilian employees (except for the U.S. Postal Service), has added 33,000 jobs so far this year. At the state level, 39,000 new jobs were added; the local government, which added 124,000 jobs from January to July 2008, remains the strongest sector of the industry.

While government staffing levels are often subject to budget and administration changes, there will be a growth in specialized areas related to border and transportation security, emergency preparedness, public health and information analysis.


Education is growing at a healthy clip in 2008. The industry added more than 82,600 jobs during the first seven months of the year. Many factors are contributing to the industry's surge.

The movement toward universal preschool and all-day kindergarten will require more preschool and kindergarten teachers. A necessity for more special education teachers is the result of a greater emphasis on classroom inclusion of disabled students. To meet the needs of special education and ESL students, classrooms will need additional teacher assistants.

More high school graduates will attend college and professionals will return to school to enhance or update skills therefore feeding the demand for post-secondary teachers.

Mining/oil and gas extraction

Although the U.S. crude oil production has declined by 20 percent in the last decade, employment in mining rose by about 36,600 workers in the first seven months of 2008.

Support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction accounted for most of the increase, adding 23,700 and 8,300 jobs respectively, but coal mining saw a small boost, too.

What's contributing to the rise in demand for some of today's most dangerous jobs? Three key factors: the U.S. government's goal to reduce dependence on foreign oil, new drilling techniques and technologies, and the prospect of opening federal lands to oil exploration.

Professional and business services

This category, with its vague name and broad reach, is comprised of several sectors, but three in particular, engineering, computer systems and consulting, experienced growth from January to July of this year. Architectural and engineering services added 10,000 new jobs, with a greater need for biomedical, civil, environmental and industrial engineers.

Because of the continued and rapid developments in technology, computer systems design and related services added 27,700 positions. Management and technical consulting, which added more than 30,000 jobs, is growing in part due to continuing complexity of business and growing demand for advice in all areas of business planning.

The "Q3 2008 Job Forecast" also found that, despite job losses in temporary staffing this year, 31 percent of hiring managers in the broader professional and business services category are expecting to add jobs in the third quarter.

Leisure and hospitality

While pocketbooks are hurting and experts everywhere are telling us to cut back on unneeded extras like daily lattes and eating meals out, we still love our take-out and it shows. While the overall leisure and hospitality industry is experiencing a decline (no doubt from said cutbacks on leisure activities), there were a couple of bright spots.

Food services and drinking places added more than 58,000 workers so far this year, while performing arts and spectator sports added almost 5,400 workers. And 26 percent of hospitality employers expected to expand staffs in the third quarter of this year, according to the "Q3 2008 Job Forecast."

Our analysis? We'll forego vacation -- as seen in the employment decline at accommodations, museums, historical sites and zoos -- but we can't let go of our pizza or baseball just yet.

Bottom line: Despite the lagging economy, there are jobs available across all categories, whether from industry growth, skilled worker shortages or turnover. You just need to know where to look and prepare for a longer job hunt.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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