With the US unemployment rate stuck at 8.3 percent, the job market can best be described as weak in most parts of the country and for many industries. But well-paid jobs are available, and some employers have positions they can't fill.
Your personal jobs market may be entirely different than the one your neighbor is facing.
"There are certain sectors where you can get a job, an attractive job," says Brian Hamilton, CEO of the financial information firm Sageworks. "Anything around health care, pharmaceutical businesses, biotech, software companies, information services."
"If I'm looking for a job it would be in one of those mega-growth industries that are just growing independent from recessionary cycles."
But nearly all of those jobs require some level of skill or expertise.
"Having a college education really is the best umbrella in the economic storm," says Jamie Merisotis of the non-profit Lumina Foundation. "Some form of post-secondary education has really been the difference for most people in the modern economy."
A new report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the best-paying jobs between now and 2020 will be offered to people who have technical or trade skills as well as those with master's or nursing degrees.
Job losses are expected to continue for low-skilled factory workers.
Since the 2008 recession "virtually all of the job loss has been for people who had a high school diploma or less," says Jamie Merisotis. "Virtually all of the job growth has been for people with a bachelors degree, an associate degree or some other form of other post-secondary credential."
Technology and globalization are responsible for sweeping changes throughout the economy.
"We are moving more and more towards an information and software way to operate," says Hamilton. "Any position that you can get involving technology, software, gathering information or processing data" is likely to lead to a well-paid job with good prospects.
"Health care really got through the recession pretty much unscathed," says Michael Erwin, a senior executive at CareerBuilder.com. "We continue to see jobs added as the population continues to age. So that is a great place to look."
Not only doctors and nurses will be needed by the expanding health care industry. New financial, food services and marketing jobs will be added "pretty much across the board," says Erwin.
Since 2007 some of the deepest job losses have come in home construction. But the worst of the long deep housing slump may be over. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, "Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved for a fourth consecutive month in August." The index is at its highest level since February of 2007.
Made in the USA is making a modest comeback as well. But the factories of today are very different places than when thousands of workers were needed to operate all kinds of machines. More than ever robots are playing a role. New positions in manufacturing are largely for employees with design, technical and computer skills.
You are definitely seeing an uptick in the number of jobs being added back to manufacturing," says Erwin. "When the recession hit that was one of the industries that was hit the hardest."