New Report Details Orange County’s Most Resilient Jobs Feature Story

May 18, 2023
Photo collage of professionals from different industries.

If the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that changes in the workplace, industry upheavals, and labor market fluctuations can happen quickly. Yet, despite so much uncertainty, there remain resilient occupations that weather these ups and downs, with employer demand and opportunities staying steady through the economic storms. A new March 2023 report titled, OC Resilient Jobs and Jobs for Recovery updates a previous study from 2020 and reveals just what these jobs are.

Released by the Orange County Center of Excellence for Labor Market Research, the report provides an overview and analysis of industries and jobs that were “resilient” in Orange County during the two most recent economic downturns: the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic recession. The report also aims to help educators and job seekers look to the future by identifying well-paying jobs and careers that will be essential to the region’s recovery.

“We really want to push to get students into occupations that we know are going to pay well and withstand any future economic downturns,” says Dr. Jesse Crete, Director of the Orange County Center of Excellence, who led the study. “I think a lot of people, especially our students, are looking for jobs that provide safety and security in their career paths. This report provides the data to say, ‘These are the career pathways that will provide that safety and security.’ “

While “Jobs for Recovery” are in demand and growing in the short-term, the report suggests colleges also consider how existing career education programs can help students and incumbent workers transition from a Job for Recovery to a Resilient Job in preparation for the next economic downturn. Crete’s hope is that Orange County’s community college can use the data to develop new pathways, refine existing pathways, and for local and regional strategic planning.

Resilient Jobs

For the purposes of the report, Great Recession-resilient jobs were defined as those with less than 7.4% employment decline between 2005 and 2009 and greater than 21.4% employment growth from 2010-2019. Similarly, Pandemic Recession-resilient jobs had less than 8% decline in 2019-2020, greater than 3.5% employment growth in 2020-2021.

According to the report, of the nearly 800 occupations surveyed in Orange County, only 23 are considered both Great Recession-resilient and COVID-19 Pandemic Recession-resilient. Of these, eight are considered middle-skill jobs, meaning they require training beyond high school but not a four-year college degree. Because of this, community colleges play an essential role training people for these occupations. They are:

  • Administrative Services Managers
  • Facilities Managers
  • Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
  • Interpreters and Translators
  • Registered Nurses
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Insurance Sales Agents
  • Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers

Jobs For Recovery

As mentioned earlier, the report also lays out some of the best jobs to bet on for the future. These “Jobs for Recovery” are expected to see greater than the average 2.5% projected employment increase in the county between 2021 and 2026 with annual job openings above the OC average.

Of the 39 occupations identified as “Jobs for Recovery” in Orange County, the report identifies 18 of these as middle-skill jobs. The good news? Orange County Community Colleges have training programs for nearly all of these occupations:

  • Home Health and Personal Care Aides
  • First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers
  • Registered Nurses
  • Receptionists and Information Clerks
  • Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Childcare Workers
  • Medical Assistants
  • Manicurists and Pedicurists
  • Electricians
  • Massage Therapists
  • Teaching Assistants (except postsecondary)
  • Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
  • Dental Assistants
  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses
  • Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
  • Computer User Support Specialists
  • Social and Human Service Assistants

Worth noting is that only four occupations on the “Jobs for Recovery” lists are also considered “Resilient Jobs.”

“There weren’t that many occupations in our survey that were both pandemic and recession resilient and a job for recovery,” says Crete. “These were like the cream of the crop. These are going to be good no matter what because they paid above a living wage, and they had a certain number of openings.”

According to the report, these “cream of the crop” jobs are:

  • Managers, All Other (Defined by O*Net Online [] as manager occupations “with a wide range of characteristics that do not fit into a detailed O*Net occupation category.” A few examples cited include Regulatory Affairs Managers, Compliance Managers, Loss Prevention Managers.)
  • Project Management Specialists
  • Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
  • Registered Nurses (RNs)

Good News for Orange County

Orange County’s community colleges seem well-positioned to support regional recovery with programs that train for 7 of the 8 middle-skill “Resilient Jobs” and 15 of the 18 middle-skill “Jobs for Recovery.” Significantly, all Orange County community colleges offer programs that can lead to direct employment or provide a pathway to employment for three of the four “cream of the crop” jobs including Project Managers, Marketing Analysts and Specialists, and RNs. (For details on programs, see the full report.)

“It’s really great that we are already training for so many of these resilient occupations,” says Crete. “We’re in a great spot. We don’t have to recreate anything. We just need to make sure in our marketing and other efforts that we attract students to these fields because they are really great opportunities.”

To see the full report, visit