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Sir Humphrey

Safest jobs in a recession.

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Hi all

 

Better say hello first. I am a junior civil servant in the UK. I have a degree in PPE from Oxford, but did not carry on Economics until finals, so am no big expert (although I know a lot more than the layman).

 

My question is on behalf of friends really. I am now of the opinion that a stagflation recession is likely in the near future. I am very fortunate in being in a secure (although not particularly well paid) civil service job. I will be in a position to benefit from a house market crash if it occurs owing to good fortune.

 

My concern is for a number of friends and colleagues. Although things could be going well for me, it distresses me what may happen to soem of them. Several of my friends and colleagues have bought houses in the last year or two. Luckly, many of them have either bought at below current market value of have secure jobs (eg Doctor, Civil Servant etc etc).

 

My question is this: Apart from the obvious (such as lawyers, doctors etc), which areas of the economy can best be expected to ride a stagflation recession? For instance, one friend works for a small TV company, with no job security at all. One might expect such a person to be in trouble. However, TV did well in the 1970s owing to high viewing figures resulting from more households staying at home in the evening. So would it be a case of consolidation in that industry?

 

Opinions would be very welcome. :D

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"now of the opinion that a stagflation recession is likely in the near future.

I am very fortunate in being in a secure (although not particularly well paid) civil service job"

 

THAT will be true UNTIL things get bad enough, that pressure is on to cut back on the size of public employment. We may see such pressure if taxes are seen as too large a burden by much of the populace. Most people believe that the private sector is more efficient, and so there may eventually be pressure to build employment outside the tax-needing private sector.

 

I do not expect this shift quickly, but it could come within 3-4 years.

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THAT will be true UNTIL things get bad enough, that pressure is on to cut back on the size of public employment. We may see such pressure if taxes are seen as too large a burden by much of the populace. Most people believe that the private sector is more efficient, and so there may eventually be pressure to build employment outside the tax-needing private sector.

 

I do not expect this shift quickly, but it could come within 3-4 years.

 

I am aware of such a risk. I am certainly NOT here to crow as a public sector employee. However, in reality I suspect it is unlikely. Firstly, my department has already had it's Lyons/Gershon cuts. Secondly, it is a politically popular non-ministerial department (there is such a thing). Thirdly, cutting civil servants would exacerbate a recession.

 

It is worthwhile to look to history. Around every 20-25 years, governments decide to cut the civil service (the last time was in about 1978/79 and and Wilson had a go in the early 1960s). Ironically, this tends to be done by Labour governments. During the recession of the late 1970s, civil services cuts by Callaghan were in fact stopped by Thatcher! Politicians can do little without keeping the First Division on side.

 

I think it more likely that 3-4 years down the line that I could face a pay freeze or nominal cut. If a recession were that bad, it should still be a stronger position than many unfortunate people. However, I consider myself relatively secure as I work as a data analyst rather than a more easily cut backroom boy.

 

IMO, the idea of greater private sector efficiency is largely mythical. The efficiency savings are more than offset by profit margin IMO. You only have to look to various PFI/PPP projects for evidence. Certainly, the public sector is cheaper. I can't imagine many private sector data analysts earning under average earnings after four years of employment as I do (I am 26). I suspect that public/private sector pay narrowing is down to the lowering quality of private sector jobs, (for instance all our cleaners and tea girls are private contractors).

 

The analogy with private vs public sector employment I would draw is with high risk and low risk investments. In the public sector there is lower risk for lower financial return. I value security over personal enrichment which is why I avoided the post-Oxford milk-round job circuit.

 

Keep up the good work by the way Dr Bubb. :)

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Hi

 

I should make clear why I am asking. My TV working friend and I met for lunch today and the topic of conversation turned to job security in a recession. I am really asking for her benefit.

 

My other friends have all been saying how great it is about getting their own place and I have been having to conceal my worry about them. It is horrible.

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Birth and Deaths are the one certainty. So work related to either should be pretty recession proof. Though the NHS have been laying off midwives recently, so maybe nothing is certain anymore.

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YES,

I am sure there is a cycle to it as well.

Gordon Brown's big hiring push of 2-3 years ago helped the economy, but lumbered the taxpayer with some big pension burdens. When the US starts whacking away at the public sector benefits, such action will probably spread here, too.

 

Probably some years away (2009-2010?, maybe)

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IMO, the idea of greater private sector efficiency is largely mythical. The efficiency savings are more than offset by profit margin IMO. You only have to look to various PFI/PPP projects for evidence. Certainly, the public sector is cheaper. I can't imagine many private sector data analysts earning under average earnings after four years of employment as I do (I am 26). I suspect that public/private sector pay narrowing is down to the lowering quality of private sector jobs, (for instance all our cleaners and tea girls are private contractors).

 

I definitely agree with this. The PFI/PPP projects would cost a lot less if they were done in-house rather than being out-sourced.

 

The massive government spending programmes over the past few years have been keeping the unemployment figures down. Once Gordon runs out of money then it will all get very messy.

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I definitely agree with this. The PFI/PPP projects would cost a lot less if they were done in-house rather than being out-sourced.

 

The massive government spending programmes over the past few years have been keeping the unemployment figures down. Once Gordon runs out of money then it will all get very messy.

 

Certainly many private companies did well out of this. Some of their contracts simply took advantage of the inexperience of the market from within the public sector that once it was signed, if the company needed more money they simply go back cap in hand. The public sector usually ends up paying more because the alternative was a massive write off. There has been quite a lot of this with various computer systems that cost far more than originally contracted for.

 

One company who does very well out of public sector contracts is Capita. Share price bubbling as well. I find it interesting that often the public sector gets attacked when if you were to look at who holds the contract, you would find it is a public or private company. For instance, Capita run the London congestion charge scheme.

 

http://www.abd.org.uk/london_congestion_charge.htm

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One company who does very well out of public sector contracts is Capita. Share price bubbling as well. I find it interesting that often the public sector gets attacked when if you were to look at who holds the contract, you would find it is a public or private company. For instance, Capita run the London congestion charge scheme.

 

http://www.abd.org.uk/london_congestion_charge.htm

 

Sometimes I wonder if GB uses PFI/PPP to boost private sector profits and the FTSE all share index, by deliberately pouring as much public money into the FTSE as possible.

 

The public sector can be bureaucratic. This to help prevent corruption. However, when I was applying for Civil Service jobs out of university, the most bureaucratic application forms by far were those produced by Capita. They were just awful.

 

EDIT: To answer Bubb's point. They could try to cut benefits. However, it would be a foolish move IMO. Civil Servants view the pension as deferred pay. You could view this as compulsory saving, which institutionalises what sensible people should be doing anyway, only with less risk. Cuts to final salary pensions would cause major recruitment problems (even as things are my division of my department has a 1/3 annual staff turnover). Cutting pension provision would simply cause public sector pay to rise to private sector market rates, which would cause an immediate problem rather than one in decades time.

 

Remember that soon new Civil Servants will retire at 65. I believe that will apply to people who leave and rejoin the service for future pension contributions. The expectation is that the pension deal will be revisited, but I doubt with much success. The government actually did better recently than the tabloids realise last time.

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Safest jobs in a recession - some (tongue in cheek) ideas?????????:

 

central banker.

 

Housewife/husband.

 

Professional vagrant.

 

Leader of the opposition could in fact have improved job prospects.

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Good idea for a thread.

 

I did a search on Google...

 

1/

The Best Jobs to Have in 2006 - All Business - Yahoo! Finance

Some of the safest jobs involve government-related work.

Some Detail: http://biz.yahoo.com/special/job06_article1.html

(but this didn't take into account a possible recession)

 

2/

OTHER IDEAS that came from this search:

 

+ Working on a farm (assuming food prices rise)

+ Working for an oil company, or energy utility

+ Debt collector

+ Pawn broker

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If cinema thrived in the depression of the 1930s and television in the 1970s, I predict the INTERNET will be the medium to thrive in the next downturn.

 

If quality, advertising revenue and viewing figures are anything to go by, then television is in a major downtrend. It's on its way out in my view - though that'll take a long time.

 

However, one thing that television does better than any other medium is sport. That should continue to prop it up.

 

If cinema in the 1930s killed music hall, then the internet today is akin to the new cinema. Television is the new music hall.

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However, one thing that television does better than any other medium is sport. That should continue to prop it up.

 

Should we be investing in Mr Murdoch's SKY then?

 

Or would a pact with the devil be a better option? B)

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