This year was not kind to the U.S. worker. Layoffs, furloughs, reduced hours and decreased benefits took a toll on our work force. And while not everything will bounce back quickly in 2010, experts say a few bright spots exist for those looking for work.
Here are some places to look if you're in the job market.
Market research firm Borrell Associates says health care, which topped the list in 2009 with more than 500,000 job openings, is expected to continue to hold first place next year as well, with job openings expected to exceed 600,000.
This is a wide-open field: doctors, nurses, medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, home health care aides, electronic medical records specialists and more. Career One Stops, a Web site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, connects job seekers with training programs every day to gain new skills for a career in health care.
You can also think about ways to leverage your existing skills to a position in health care, which is what Mary Beth Walker did when she was laid off from her role in high-tech public relations.
Out of work for nine months, she ultimately turned her attention to health care and landed as a marketing specialist for Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue, Wash.
Security and protection remain priorities at all levels of government. At the federal level, forecasts call for 50,000 new hires, ranging from airport screeners to intelligence analysts, primarily at the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. (The federal government operates a Web site, USA JOBS, which explains the process for applying for federal positions and is the centralized location for federal job openings.)
There's also above-average growth projected through next year for state and local law enforcement agencies, some of which have received stimulus money for such hiring.
At our first "GMA" job fair in Atlanta, Angela McRae, who had spent 33 years in customer service and finance at the Minneapolis-based Mars candy company, talked to every employer. She was recruited by the one that told her it wanted her and that she could do it.
It was the police department of Suffolk, Va. McRae is now in academy training and, in April, will be sworn in as a police officer at the age of 60!
(She doesn't like talking about her age because, she says, it makes people think differently about her but I can't help but mention that detail because I'm so thrilled for her success.)
Sales openings are expected to grow more than 50 percent from 2009 but they still won't reach 2008 levels. So, as with every category, competition will be steep. Borrell Associates Inc. of Williamsburg, Va., a research and consulting firm, said that more than 140,000 sales openings are forecast for 2010 across multiple sectors.
Bill Leversee of San Diego was laid off from his investment banking job when his former employer downsized. Instead of selling financial products, he got a job with San Francisco-based SunRun Inc., a leader in residential solar energy, selling solar panels. He used to wear a suit and tie and now he's in khakis, meeting in people's homes and climbing roofs to sell the benefits of solar panels.
Not only is it a sales job but it's a green job too, another area where we'll see growth in the year ahead.