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What is Job Security?

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  • Originally Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Revised By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Job security is a measurement of the chance of becoming unemployed due to downsizing or limited opportunities. It's affected by many factors, including the economic environment, labor union agreements, public and private sector growth, and field or specialty demand. There are also things that people can do within their jobs to increase their chances of keeping their job, but some industries are generally safer than others, regardless of employee performance.

Positive Factors

A number of factors can increase a job's level of security, including actions by labor unions, requirements for specialization, and industry stability. Generally speaking, industries that have a lot of union activity, like education and auto manufacturing are pretty stable, since labor contracts negotiated by unions have very specific rules about hiring and firing employees. People who work in jobs that require a high degree of specialization or education are also less likely to be replaced, since there it's harder to find people with the same type of training or expertise. Additionally, jobs in industries that fulfill long-term needs are generally safer than others, since the number of employees needed won't fluctuate with the seasons or in response to market trends.

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Negative Factors

Job security is also affected negatively by things like seasonality, technological changes, market saturation, and economic recessions. People are generally more replaceable in jobs that fulfill a discretionary or seasonal need, like those in tourism, fashion, construction, and entertainment. Changes in technology greatly impact job stability as well, with certain jobs becoming obsolete due to technological advances. This is pretty common in fields that require a lot of unskilled manual labor, like manufacturing and agriculture, but also happens in media and business, as in the case of desktop publishing and typing pools.

Having a lot of people with similar training competing for the same type of job can also greatly decrease a people's job stability. This is particularly true if employees don't have skills or experience to differentiate themselves from job seekers or if their skills are outdated. This is often exacerbated by economic recessions, because businesses try to save money by cutting jobs, which leaves more people competing for fewer jobs. This is not always the case though, since changing priorities in a recession can cause some previously secure job fields to become more vulnerable while others continue to grow.

Increasing Job Security

Though people can't control many of the factors that affect job security, there are some ways to lower the chances of getting laid off or becoming unemployable. Keeping up to date on industry training and building a skill set that can be used in many different jobs can make an employee less likely to lose his or her job, as can taking continuing education courses. Performance and experience is another very important aspect of keeping a job, so setting goals for performance and volunteering for special projects can help an employee better his or her performance and stand out in the mind of employers.

Additionally, just being aware of employment trends in an industry can help people keep their jobs or have enough time to prepare for a job change if it looks like they're about to be laid off. Some national governments publish labor statistics on specific jobs which reveal whether industry employment opportunities are declining, the education and experience needed to get a specific job, average pay rates, and the economic sectors that employ the most workers in a certain profession. These can be used to see how an employee compares to others in the same field and give him or her ideas on how to improve or what field he or she might want to change to.

Other people choose to increase their job security by forming a business, buying a franchise, or working as an independent contractor. Though business owners are still subject to economic changes and product demand, they are in charge of their own work and income. Many people start off working a second career part-time until they can make enough money to quit their old jobs, but some people continue to work both, keeping the second one as a backup in case they get laid off from the first.

Secure and Insecure Industries

Though no industry is entirely stable, some do tend to have jobs with higher security than others. Generally, the jobs with the most security are in fields like health care, funeral services, hospitality, education, food preparation, advanced manufacturing and engineering, and career counseling. Also, government jobs are usually safer than those in the private sector, since governments receive their revenue from taxes, which they have the power to control, while private companies have to compete in the market.

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