These 10 jobs are paying more money than ever, despite a looming recession

With most experts predicting that the U.S. will suffer at least a mild recession next year, many Americans are bracing for layoffs and corporate belt-tightening.

But as with any economic event, there are sectors that are hit hard by a recession and others that actually benefit from it. In fact, the sectors that are expected to do better in a recession include utilities, government, education, and consumer services, according to recent LinkedIn data.

And despite some early layoff activity, there were still 10.3 million job openings at the end of October. Which means workers looking to make a move still have a lot of options. To help workers narrow down the pool and determine which roles may hold up better in an economic slowdown, Payscale analyzed the most “recession proof” jobs with the fastest-growing wages.

Turns out this pool includes a mix of blue-collar jobs, as well as white-collar roles in industries that are still reeling from the aftermath of COVID-19 and the Great Resignation. Payscale estimates that these in-demand positions are earning, on average, 17% more pay than last year.

The job at the top of the list may surprise you: It’s a waiter or waitress, according to Payscale’s data. The average server earns median pay of nearly $20,000. It’s certainly not the highest-paying job, but wages have jumped 30% year over year for these workers.

While the restaurant industry tanked during the early part of the pandemic, the openings rate was 9.2% in the accommodation and food services sector in October—actually higher than the pre-pandemic level of 5.7% in October 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

“Despite the possibility of an economic downturn, the labor market remains tight, forcing employers to pay top dollar to attract and retain talent for the most sought-after roles,” Lexi Clarke, VP of people at Payscale, said in a statement.

That higher pay also shows up in several of the white-collar jobs to make Payscale’s list, such as private bankers—a role that has seen a 25% hike in compensation and earns workers about $93,000 a year.

Interestingly, among the positions that Payscale highlights as “recession proof” are media directors, marketing and business development directors, and journalists. While everyone needs the news, there have already been announced layoffs at several publications and outlets as companies start to pull back on 2023 ad dollars.

Not featured on the list, however, are many high-paying positions such as developers and blockchain engineers at tech and fintech companies. The tech sector has seen a number of high-profile layoffs already, including Amazon, Meta, Stripe, Lyft, and Microsoft. An estimated 120,000 tech workers have been dismissed so far, according to Axios.

Here is Payscale’s complete list of “recession proof” jobs with the fastest-growing wages:

View this interactive chart on

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