Elsa Reaza was ready to quit her job when a friend suggested she apply for a cleaning job at Conrad, a new luxury hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Reaza worked in a home for the elderly, feeding, taking blood samples and cleaning patients. The work was emotionally exhausting even before the pandemic arrived, taking the lives of the residents she grew up with.
Reaza’s new job as a housekeeper pays about the same but offers better perks – free bus passes and occasional meals – with far more opportunities to advance in the company. “I hope to stay here for a while,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many Americans to quit their jobs and has forced others, such as Reaza, to rethink theirs. Some have participated in a wave of job abandonment dubbed the Great Resignations; others sought a better work-life balance through what they called “quiet abandon”.
Now, with inflation on everyone’s mind and many economists predicting some degree of recession in the near future, finding the best job to overcome economic uncertainty may seem more tempting.
“This is an unusual business environment with the economy under pressure, with higher interest rates and higher inflation and with a tense labor market,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, chief US economist at Oxford Economics.
With California’s unemployment rate at its lowest in more than two decades, workers are in short supply across the economy, but that could change rapidly if aggressive Federal Reserve interest rate hikes depress investment and hiring. of businesses. Based on state employment studies and interviews with economists and academics, here are the jobs that should be in demand in the coming year in California – roughly organized from lower skills / pay to higher skills / pay – and some of the pros and cons involved.
Leisure and hospitality workers: This category includes cashiers and staff in hotels, restaurants and theme parks. In California, leisure and hospitality experienced the largest job loss of any industry at the start of the pandemic: 990,200 jobs went missing from February to April 2020, or 1 in 3, according to the Department. state for the development of employment. Although the industry has made up about 85% of those lost jobs, the state still expects leisure and hospitality to be the biggest job creators in the coming year.
The disadvantages: Demand can be seasonal, and the average annual wage is around $ 32,000, a level that many workers find insufficient to afford housing and transportation in Los Angeles. Union leaders like Kurt Petersen, co-chair of Unite Here Local 11, which represents 32,000 hotels, restaurants, airports and sports halls in Southern California, are looking to reinforce this goal by organizing workers. “I’m optimistic that these jobs can support a family,” he said. “I think it will take a lot of work.”
Fast food workers: Because we love to eat on the run, the demand for cooks and fast food counter attendants continues to grow, with the EDD forecasting 243,000 openings between 2021 and 2023.
The disadvantages: The industry has a notoriously high turnover rate, which partly explains why there are so many openings. These are often minimum wage jobs, paying an average annual salary of $ 32,000. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a Labor Day bill to create a group of appointees charged with setting minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions for fast food workers in California. But the opponents have filed for a referendum, trying to block it until the issue can be submitted to the voters.
Home care and personal care aids: With baby boomers reaching retirement age and beyond, experts predict an increase in the number of Americans entering nursing homes or needing personal assistants. By 2030, all baby boomers will be 65 or older, a trend some call the “silver tsunami”. EDD projects are needed in California between 2021 and 2023 more than 200,000 health and personal care assistants at home. “The job market is dynamic and adapts to these demographic changes,” said Ratika Narag, associate professor of economics at USC.
The disadvantages: The job can be emotionally draining, and the average annual salary is less than $ 32,000. Patricia Santana, 53, became a personal assistant to care for her husband, who lost his sight and had both feet amputated due to diabetes several years ago. “This job is very difficult,” she said, noting that she pays slightly above the minimum wage. “You can work at McDonald’s and still get paid, but we’re saving lives.”
Warehouse workers: The continued growth of e-commerce is putting pressure on warehouse operators to ship more orders. Warehouse construction has increased in the Inland Empire, among other areas of the state. The annual salary for warehouse workers ranges from $ 33,000 to $ 48,000, depending on the duties and position. The number of transportation and warehouse jobs in the Inland Empire has increased nearly 40% since February 2020, according to a study by UC Riverside School of Business. “Those jobs can provide a path to raising a family and buying a home,” said Robert C. Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable. “They are critically important to California’s future.”
The disadvantages: The pace of warehouse work can be relentless, which is why California passed a law last year requiring employers like Amazon to disclose productivity quotas for workers.
Truck Drivers and Heavy Machine Operators: The boom in e-commerce has also meant an increase in demand for truckers and other logistics workers. According to the EDD, more than 14,000 job postings for truck drivers and heavy machinery operators were posted in the 60 days leading up to August 7. Truckers can work on short or long haul routes, moving goods from a port or delivering packages to residential areas, said Matt Schrap, managing director of Harbor Trucking Assn. “It’s hard work but it’s a good blue collar job,” he said, noting that many companies offer apprenticeships to learn the necessary skills.
Disadvantages: Jobs can be physically demanding and the hours are often long. The median annual salary in California is around $ 51,000.
Green energy workers: The Inflation Reduction Act signed last month by President Biden created billions of dollars in tax credits for companies that make electric cars, rooftop solar panels and wind turbines, and incentives for the people who buy them. The legislation could create at least 1.5 million jobs nationwide by 2030, mainly in the manufacturing industry, according to a study by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology, a non-partisan energy and climate policy think tank. “I think creating a more sustainable economy creates well-paid jobs for workers who already have those skills,” said Enrique Lopezlira, a labor economist at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. An electrician working in California’s green energy industry can earn an average salary of about $ 73,000 per year, according to the EDD.
The disadvantages: Much of this work, such as installing solar panels on the roof and working on wind turbines, is physically demanding and risky. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has rated wind turbine technicians as one of the highest rates of injury and illness among all occupations.
Software developers: As companies and organizations turn to new technologies to maximize the efficiency of their computer systems, the demand for software developers will continue to grow, according to the EDD and academics. According to the EDD, companies in California would need more than 72,000 software developers between 2021 and 2023.
The disadvantages: Developers often have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or fix issues, and although pay can be good – according to Indeed.com salaries range from $ 80,000 to $ 128,000 per year for a developer with more than ten years of experience – there is a lot of variability. “Even if you become a software engineer or a developer, that’s not the case [automatically] it means higher pay, “Lopezlira said.” There is a huge pay gap within companies. “
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.