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Healthy Job Growth Comes in Health Care, Mining

Looking for a new career? In these challenging times, with an economy crawling toward a recovery, the latest jobs report should point to a few areas where jobs are plentiful.

The big winners, it appears, are the health care and mining sectors, as well as white-collar jobs.

As far as health employment is concerned, the recession never happened. According to the Dec. 6 jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care employment has been growing steadily for at least the past 10 years, with no disruption whatsoever during the downturn. In particular, home-based care and outpatient health workers have seen their ranks bulge as America gets progressively older. There are now 1.8 million more health workers than there were at the start of the recession in 2007.

The mining industry has also done well. Much of that growth has been driven by the oil and natural gas industries, which have expanded dramatically recently. After shedding 16 percent of its workforce between 2008 and 2009 — roughly 115,000 jobs — the mining industry has bounced back dramatically and has gained 215,000 jobs over the past four years.

Professional and business services, a catch-all term for many white-collar professions, are also doing well, the report found. They lost 1.6 million jobs in 2008 and 2009, but now employ about 700,000 more people than they did at their pre-recession peak. Other winners include retail, which has almost made up the 1.2 million jobs lost during the recession, and transportation and warehousing, also on pace to recover the 417,000 jobs lost.

The going is a little bit tougher in manufacturing and construction, which have regained 554,000 and 416,000 jobs, respectively. That still leaves them with almost 4 million fewer jobs than they had before the recession.

At the current rate of growth, it will be many years before those jobs come back, if they ever do.