The Jobs With the Highest and Lowest Unemployment Rates in the U.S.

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What do petroleum engineers, detective supervisors, and animal breeders have in common? They're extremely employable.

Along with dentists and nuclear engineers, they're among the occupations with the lowest jobless rates over the last two years, according to the Wall Street Journal's fascinating study of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS measures the unemployment rate for more than 500 job categories, but there's some wild variation from year to year for some of them, due to (probably) small sample sizes.* So to build a list of the jobs with the lowest and highest unemployment rates, I focused on occupations that didn't see implausibly wild swings between 2011 and 2012.

These are the 13 jobs with measured unemployment rates under 2.0% in both 2011 and 2012, listed by their '12 rate. Three are types of doctors, and three are types of engineers.

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And here are the eight jobs with unemployment rates over 20% in both 2011 and 2012, listed by their '12 rate. Five are in, or related to, home construction.

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*For example, in 2011 "furniture finishers" reported an unemployment rate under 1.0%, but in 2012, 27% suddenly didn't have a job. Meanwhile, 25% of "woodworking machine setters" were looking for a job in 2011, but in 2012, the occupation's unemployment rate plummeted to 3%. It is possible that 2012 saw a miraculous boom in specifically **unfinished** woodcraft that explains both numbers, but it's more plausible that, since there aren't many woodworking machine setters or furniture finishers in the United States, a few respondents' answers swung the results.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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