Industries Which Hire During A Recession


John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas stresses that job searchers “need to get a fast start. You cannot wait in this job market. Get at it. Be open to changing industries. We see about 40 percent of people say (they will) leave automotive or banking and go into some healthy industries. Look for industries that are healthy and get at that search.”

Recessions are not all bad news for all industries. There are some sectors which typically feel relatively less pain and might even perform well during a recession. Below, we at Sandbox Advisors, have put together a list of some of these industries.


Poor career prospects, or a job loss, make people consider new careers. This leads to increased interest in degree programs, certifications and other training.

Health services

People often do not have a choice when it comes to medical spending. Also, in countries with aging populations, there is a greater demand for health services. “The healthcare industry continues to be the healthiest sector in the U.S. job market,” says Diana Fitting, vice president for staffing company Adecco. “The Baby Boomer generation is aging and it’s helping to keep healthcare growing.”


People have to file taxes and when they do so, they need accountants. Accounting can be a good field during a recession, as companies lay more importance on financial control in an effort to cut costs. In addition, with financial firms under intense scrutiny and regulation in high demand, there will likely be an increase in auditing firms going forward, says Lee Pinkonitz, associate professor at Georgetown University.

Recruitment and other HR relates services

With more people looking for jobs and making career changes, there is greater demand for the services of search firms, networking sites, job boards, outplacement consultants, HR consultants and so on.

Selected consumer goods

According to a recent study by McKinsey, recessions have affected spending on different categories of consumer goods in different ways. An analysis of consumer spending during the 1990–91 and 2001–02 downturns shows that consumers changed their priorities instead of making across-the-board cuts. Eating out, personal-care products and services, and apparel—tended to suffer. But categories such as groceries and reading materials, which substituted for more expensive options, actually benefitted from higher spending, as did less discretionary items, like insurance and health care.


With all that is going on in geo-politics today, countries cannot afford to cut back (significantly) on defense spending, Security is always a concern.

Financial advisory

The turmoil in the global markets and the resultant uncertainty, leads to more people looking for advice on how to manage their wealth/finances. Demand for experienced managers usually sees an uptick.


Insurance is not an entirely discretionary purchase. People always need coverage in case of natural disasters, health-care expenses and auto accidents, for example.

Amit Puri is the Managing Consultant at Sandbox Advisors. He has over 10 years of business and HR related experience, with companies such as Bain & Co, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Sandbox Advisors is based in Singapore and provides career management and HR consulting services in Asia.

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