by Jessica Shambora
The Labor Department releases employment data for March tomorrow. We can hardly wait.
No matter how much ratcheting-up in the unemployment rate we see (last report pegged it at 8.1%), you should realize that there are actually glimmers of light in the job outlook. And no, this is not a stale April Fool’s joke.
While private-sector payrolls have been falling in nearly 80% of the 271 industries that the Labor Department tracks, there is that other 20%. That’s where job growth resides.
So, which industries are we talking about here? One is health care. February data shows that the health-care sector added nearly 26,000 jobs, including 8,200 jobs in home health-care services and 6,800 in hospitals. The industry grew across all sectors. And given aging baby-boomers and the fact that health-care reform is at the top of the President’s to-do list, a contraction is unlikely anytime soon.
Another sector that’s hiring: government. No surprise, there. The U.S. government added 9,000 jobs in February at the federal, state and local levels. Federal employment (excluding the U.S. Postal Service) jumped 4.3% from a year earlier. The kinds of people on the government’s payroll are changing too: More MBAs want in, according to the New York Times. Of course, with the financial sector in shambles, B-school grads are looking elsewhere for employment.
Here’s how hard the Millenials have been hit amidst the job bust: Last year, 60% of the 1.2 million jobs lost were held by workers under the age of 25, the Wall Street Journal reports. So, Millenials are flocking to public-service jobs. At Teach for America, where college grads work in public schools for two-year teaching stints, 2009 applications are up 40% over last year to 35,000. Meanwhile, at AmeriCorps, a government program that places full-time volunteers in not for profit organizations, February applications tripled vs. last year to nearly 10,000.
Millenials seem to be genuinely attracted to taking part in this “new era of responsibility”—the catchphrase that President Obama used in his Inaugural speech in January. On Tuesday, the House passed the Senate’s Serve America Act, which gives a big boost to volunteerism: It triples volunteer opportunities and increases education rewards for service.
Keep in mind, public service isn’t just for the kids. As their parents opt out–or are forced out–of the corporate world, these boomers too are accepting Obama’s challenge to do more for their country. Two fellowship programs in the Serve America Act promote encore careers in service for the 55+ set.
If you’re one of the 12.5 million Americans looking for work, the Labor Department reports that the motion picture and sound recording industries are also adding jobs. (And you thought work in show business was the most unstable.) As is the water transportation field. (Admit it, you always fancied yourself in a captain’s hat). Corporate restructuring firms are hiring as well. Read Pattie’s Tuesday Postcard about how workout shops are busier than ever, expanding their ranks 20% to 30% a year.
The very best place to find a job? Maybe one of Fortune‘s Best Companies to Work For. Our February cover package noted that Cisco , Genentech , Whole Foods and Microsoft are all hiring, at least as of the start of this year.
And check out this special multimedia version of Fortune‘s current story, How to get a job. The story tells how certain savvy job-hunters scored jobs at Salesforce.com and Sapient and also takes you inside a hiring meeting at Aflac . Good luck!