Heyooo guys, the economy, right? Whatta mess. Slowly getting better, yes, but still depressing as hell for just about everybody. And you know what's even more depressing? Obsessively comparing your financial and/or employment situation with those of the people around you. Which is exactly what we can do now, thanks to this extensive Wall Street Journal chart of national unemployment rates by profession, and their relative stability (or lack thereof) between 2011 and 2012. Fun!
In the interest of turning lemons into lemonade (a favorite pastime around here), let's try to use this information for good, not ill. If you're unlucky enough to have landed in one of the professions at the sadder end of this chart (hello there actors, writers, bartenders!), we've used the data to hand-select a new, more lucrative career path for you. Here are the options.
So, you act. Well, you probably have another job already, because aahhahaha, actors as waiters, what a fun cliche this is! But maybe re-think it, because the unemployment rate for waiters is hovering around 10%, which doesn't suck as much as your field's 28% average, but still, it sucks.
Sure, you could become a "Tour and Travel Guide" — those people are always struggling actors, aren't they — since demand seems to be increasing, but I think the real money field job seems to be "Director, religious activities and education," (i.e. cult leader). Only .3% of those people are unemployed, and hey, you're narcissistic and charismatic, aren't you?
Old school film nerds had a pretty tough year, with the unemployment rate skyrocketing from .3% to 22.6%. Geez. Since this chart didn't have a category for "person who determines the totally insane personalized categories and selections on Netflix" (that is probably a computer), your best bet is to try your hand at announcing. Unemployment in that field dropped from 12% to 4% last year, and you've presumably watched enough previews in your lifetime to know the drill.
The playing field here isn't actually as terrible as you might think, with unemployment hovering around a surprisingly low 6%. Still, it's rough, and maybe worth considering joining the honorable ranks of "Ship and Boat Captains and Operators?" Unemployment plunged from 12.4% to 3.0%, in this exciting new field, which, don't worry, still involves plenty of heavy drinking. When you're not operating sensitive, dangerous machinery, that is. And anyway, aren't all writers looking for our white whale, or at least somthing better than "I'm sometimes impotent and worry that my coffee guy doesn't like me?" Live your gritty dreams, Ahab.
Again, a profession where things aren't necessarily as bad as you'd think — in the last year the overall unemployment rate for bartenders dropped from 10.2% to 7.2%. Still, that's worse than writers (and only slightly better than musicians, 8% of whom are out of a job), and we think you can do something more societally productive with your time. Namely, work in animal control. In 2011 25% of those people were unemployed, and now only 4.1% of them can't find work, so something potentially scary but lucrative must be going on here. Your lame patrons can go ahead and handle the obvious jokes about your knowledge of dealing with "animals" as a bartender (ugh), but while we're on the subject, working with creatures that can't talk sounds pretty ok, right?
Easy. Become an actuary or statistician. There's no data avaiable in this table for actuaries or statisticians (both are marked with a mysterious N/A), which, when you think about what it is that these people do for a living, is pretty fishy. Seems like the business could use some fresh blood. Also, "Gaming Managers" (the people who run casinos) are doing pretty well, so that's an option as well. Learn how to count, and you'll be just fine.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.