Good Job Prospects or On the Decline?

by Rachel Vilsack

Last week, the Wall Street Journal created an interactive graphic of the 2012 jobs, which analyzed national unemployment rates for detailed occupations using Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Which occupations had the highest and lowest unemployment rates last year?


Good Job Prospects

The top 5 occupations with the lowest national unemployment rates and with 500 or more jobs in Minnesota include:

  • Biomedical engineers – Employed primarily in manufacturing firms, biomedical engineers are projected to be the third fastest growing occupation in Minnesota between 2010 and 2010.
  • Supervisors/managers of fire fighting and prevention workers –  Nearly all job openings in the next decade will be due to replacement needs, as people retire or otherwise leave this profession.
  • Supervisors/managers of correctional officers – Employed in federal, state, and local government entities, jobs in this occupation will be because people retire or otherwise leave the field.
  • Physicians and surgeons  – With strong projected employment growth in Minnesota, job prospects will be best in rural and low-income areas, because there health care firms often have  difficulty attracting doctors.
  • Appraisers and assessors of real estate – With job growth projected to be below average over the next 10 years, job seekers should expect strong competition for jobs.


These occupations had national unemployment rates of one percent or less in 2012. Many occupations with the lowest unemployment rates –including very small occupations not listed here, like atmospheric scientists, astronomers, and directors of religious activities –require extensive post-secondary training.


On the Decline

Many occupations with the highest national unemployment rates – like forest and conversation workers, manufactured building and mobile home installers, and ambulance drivers and attendants – have very small employment in Minnesota. (It’s estimated that 50 or fewer people work in these professions across the state.)


The top five occupations with the national unemployment rates of 20 percent or more and with 500 or more jobs in Minnesota include:

  • Conveyor operators and tenders –The largest number of job opportunities in this field will be due to replacements, as people retire or otherwise leave the profession.
  • Telemarketers – Communication and persuasion skills are important for this occupation, which is projected to grow in Minnesota by less than three percent between 2010 and 2020.
  • Structural iron and steel workers –Employment for iron and steel workers is projected to grow by 18 percent in Minnesota between 2010 and 2020, as the construction industry continues to recover.
  • Desktop publishers – Employment is expected to contract in this occupation, as the trend towards fewer print publications continues.
  • Paving, surfacing and tamping equipment operators – It’s likely that high unemployment rates are tied to the still-recovering heavy and civil engineering construction industry.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks national unemployment rates by occupation, it’s important to remember that not all people are looking for a job in the career field in which they’ve been unemployed.


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