If he keeps his campaign promises, President-elect Barack Obama could increase the number of jobs in green energy, healthcare, government, education and small businesses, while decreasing the number of government contractor positions.
Here’s a look at how the incoming president’s economic plan could affect workers in these and other industries:
From Graveyards to Green
Whether he’s able to convince Congress to fund his ideas, Obama will take office during a time when a weak economy and the credit crisis have the financial services, real estate, construction and auto industries looking like employment graveyards, says Martin Green, a business professor at Franklin Pierce University in Concord, New Hampshire.
Some job seekers from those hard-hit fields may want to consider moving into the green energy field, since Obama has said he’ll spend $150 billion over the next 10 years to support the development of green industries including biofuels, hybrid cars, wind energy and a digital electric grid.
Those in commercial real estate can look for renewable energy project work, such as developing wind farms or solar plants. Construction workers can transfer their residential building skills into jobs laying lines for new power plants.
Energy-generation companies need salespeople, says Christopher Melillo, an energy recruiting practice leader for Kaye/Bassman International in Plano, Texas. “That’s an easy transition for anyone trained properly in the mortgage industry to generate new business,” he says.
Former mortgage salespeople can also take advantage of another Obama promise -- to help Americans struggling to pay their mortgages -- by seeking work as debt counselors.
Those at the top of the financial services industry may not do as well under an Obama administration, because the recent $700 billion bailout comes with conditions. “For the financial services industries, the regulators and oversight groups are going to have a final say on compensation packages, including what a CEO can get paid,” Melillo says.
Obama’s pledge to provide healthcare to more Americans could increase the already high demand for healthcare workers. “We’re already understaffed in healthcare,” Melillo says. “If you’re looking to change your career, it’s a great time to get a degree because the opportunities are going to be tremendous. And, Obama wants to make community college free. Get trained as a nurse or a radiology tech, and you’ll never want for a job.”
State and Local Jobs
Another Obama pledge, providing more aid to state and local government, could mean fewer job cuts, says John Miller, an economics professor at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. “Here in Massachusetts, there is talk about laying off 1,000 state employees, so we need exactly the kind of aid to states Obama has been talking about,” he says.
Obama’s plans for universal preschool, decreasing the high school dropout rate and making community college essentially free could increase the demand for educators at all levels.
Small Business Jobs
Obama has several proposals that could improve the bottom line for small businesses. If he can get his health insurance proposals passed and eliminate capital gains tax for small business owners, they would have lower costs, making them better able to expand or hire new workers.
Government Contract Work
The next administration says it will cut federal contract spending by at least 10 percent, or about $41 billion. Obama’s call for more effective federal financial management could lead contractors and federal agencies to hire more contract managers, auditors and analysts.
As a senator, Obama prodded the Small Business Administration to increase the number of government contracts awarded to women-owned businesses. Once he’s in office, he could force the federal government to give more work to women-owned, minority-controlled and small-business government contractors.
Help for the Unemployed
If you’re unemployed, Obama promises to extend your unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks and to suspend taxes on those benefits. He’s also asking Congress to allow penalty-free withdrawals of 15 percent or up to $10,000 from Individual Retirement Accounts in 2008 (retroactively) and 2009.
Looser Credit, Favorable Demographics
The new administration’s call for more taxes on high-end earners and an end to the Bush tax cuts could calm credit market participants who until now have been concerned about rising deficits, says Peter Ubertaccio, a presidential scholar at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. “That may free up some of the credit markets, and companies may take advantage of looser credit to expand and hire new employees,” he says.
Michael Neece, chief strategy officer for PongoResume, agrees. “With the election of a new president, markets will settle down and return to a more predictable behavior, and we’ll gradually see more hiring,” he says.
In the end, no matter who lives in the White House, big demographic and social shifts will continue to heavily influence the job market. “We still have a lot more people retiring than entering the job market, and there’s going to be a substantial gap in talent on the supply side for highly skilled workers in math and science fields -- engineering, healthcare, accounting and finance,” Neece says.