In the latest round of layoffs from major tech companies, Microsoft announced in mid-January it will shed 5% of its workforce, or 10,000 jobs. This follows a tumultuous end to 2022 in which many tech firms made major cuts to their workforces in droves; 2022 saw more than 154,000 layoffs and there have already been 37,000 job losses in 2023, according to figures compiled by Layoffs.fyi.
As more Big Tech powerhouses lay off workers, here are the most secure industries in 2023BY Sydney LakeJanuary 19, 2023, 3:38 PM
No one reason can explain the massive layoffs, but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview at the World Economic Forum that the company was undergoing a “normalization in demand,” following the “rapid acceleration during the pandemic.” There have also been major layoffs at Amazon, Salesforce, HP, and Cisco in the past year, just to name a few other tech companies. But job losses at tech companies could point to a gain for other industries.
There are still many industries that have decent job security. Some of the industries with the lowest layoff rates are health care; local, state, and federal government; and finance and insurance, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Outsource Accelerator, an outsourcing firm. The analysis is based on data from June 2022 to October 2022.
“The year-on-year stats were not too surprising across many of the industries between 2021 and 2022 and we didn’t observe many drastic changes in layoff rates,” Derek Gallimore, CEO and founder of Outsource Accelerator, tells Fortune. “The federal industry not only had the lowest layoff rates of any industry in 2022, but it also had the biggest change in layoff rate between 2021 and 2022.”
It’s important to note that the federal government does not make layoffs at the same rate that private sector companies can make. Rather, layoffs are referred to as reductions in force, and have more regulatory requirements before an employee can be transferred or let go. Some tech industry jobs can also be applicable in the federal government, particularly cybersecurity-oriented roles.
Industries with the lowest layoff rates
Industry layoff rates show the proportion of workers who were laid off in a particular industry during a given period of time—in this case, June 2022 to October 2022.
“Since there are differences between the overall sizes of workforces in each industry, this allows us to standardize and compare them objectively,” Gallimore explains. “Layoff rates do fluctuate year on year, but for most industries, layoff rates were found to have either decreased or stayed the same, between 2021 and 2022.”
The industries with the lowest layoff rates during that time period in 2022 were health care (0.6%), state and local government (0.44%), finance and insurance (0.4%), and state and local education (0.3%). The federal government reported the lowest layoff rate at 0.22%.
“While it wouldn’t make sense to select a career based solely on it typically showing a low layoff rate, it is one factor to take into consideration when thinking about job security within your industry,” Gallimore says. “It’s also a good idea to look ahead to the future and consider potential technological or legislative changes that might make roles in your industry obsolete.”
The arts, entertainment, and recreation industry reported the highest layoff rate at nearly 3%, which is unsurprising considering the industry record of job cuts. As a result, it’s “sensible to keep yourself prepared for the possibility of losing your job,” Gallimore says. He recommends keeping your resume or CV up to date, building up a network, and putting money into savings to act as a cushion.
Considering a career switch?
While there’s no surefire way to ensure job security, upskilling and pursuing an advanced degree can be one way to find new career opportunities. Many schools offer free online courses in popular subjects ranging from cybersecurity to leadership to entrepreneurship. Plus, companies like IBM also offer free online courses in tech and data subjects.
Earning a master’s degree in the fields with lower layoff rates is also a possibility. In the health care industry, there are online and in-person programs for a master’s in public health, a master’s in nursing, and a master’s in psychology. For the education industry, students can also earn a doctorate in education online from top schools like Vanderbilt University. Finally, those people who are looking to pursue a career in finance and insurance may want to consider earning an MBA. These degrees are offered in a variety of formats including full-time in-person, part-time, online, and executive.
Check out all of Fortune’s rankings of degree programs, and learn more about specific career paths.