While industries like manufacturing, which have lost U.S.-based jobs to cheaper employment overseas, are unlikely to return, other areas like technology (despite its current depressed state) are expected to continue to be a driver of economic growth, say economists.
"I'm not convinced at all that in the longer run those industries still don't have an awful lot to grow," says David Neumark a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-profit San Francisco-based research organization.
"We often tend to lose sight of the fact that these things are temporary. Every recession is characterized by particular industries being harder hit than others," he says.
Others note that at 5.7 percent, the current unemployment rate is not nearly as bad as in recessions past. In the last recession in the early '90s, the unemployment rate got as high as 7.8 percent.
"There's no question that there are some folks who are in dire straits, because they're out of work and they're out of work in their field," says Ken Goldstein, economist for The Conference Board, a non-profit economic research group based in New York. "But where we are at the moment is not as bad as some of the stuff we've seen in our lifetime."
Work the Network
Still, for those people looking for work, these are frustrating times. Stories of hundreds of applicants for one job opening have become commonplace in the folklore of the unemployed.
Job search experts say instead of looking for exactly the same job they had before, job seekers should look for what skills they used in their former jobs that can be used in another industry.
"People should think of themselves as open to changing industries but not changing fields," says Challenger. For example, sales, purchasing, customer service and marketing are the types of jobs that can be used in a variety of different companies.
"Most people work in fields and they build their skills in areas that every company needs," says Challenger.
And perhaps the most important piece of advice for job searchers is to network, says Joe Loughran, cofounder of yournextcareer.net, a career counseling firm based in McLean, Va. Loughran says telling everyone you know that you're looking for a job is key to finding something else.
"The connections you make in your life are going to pay off very richly in an environment like this," says Loughran.