What Industries are Historically Recession Proof?

As mentioned, not everyone feels the pain equally in a recession, and some industries and jobs are better positioned than others to survive this unprecedented economic situation and even thrive. It’s important to note that the 2020 recession is different from previous ones like the Great Recession of 2008 because of the nature of its abrupt onset and the shelter-in-place rules that followed the coronavirus pandemic and have wiped out traditional commerce.

Therefore, no one can precisely predict the impact on specific sectors. But there are some industries that are traditionally recession proof given their “defensive nature.” In other words, they offer more conservative products and services that people tend to seek no matter what the circumstances. Those can be good places to look for jobs and/or park your investments if you’re looking for individual stocks. Here are a few to consider.

Consumer packaged goods (CPG)

While Americans’ wallets have been walloped, they still need consumer staples, and there have been a number of CPG companies that have flourished as consumers stock up on basics and return to the comfort of brands and products they trust. That could spell good news for large, established companies that sell products that consumers continue to buy in a downturn and pandemic, from food to cleaning products to, yes, toilet paper.

Health and beauty products

While these often fall under the umbrella of CPG, it’s likely to be a stand-out industry in its own right. Companies that make affordable luxuries tend to prosper in a downturn, given that consumers still want to feel good about themselves, even if they can’t spend the big bucks. So this sector tends to be recession resilient.


If you’re job hunting, government jobs usually provide resilient opportunities. They aren’t entirely immune, especially as municipal revenues plunge. However, statistically, these are relatively safe and the government sector encompasses a wide swath of jobs of all types and levels. In fact, almost any job that one would do in the private sector has a counterpart in the government. While salaries might not quite match up, you might find more job security pursuing your existing job in a governmental capacity.


With elective procedures on hold, some healthcare jobs may have been lost, but that should even out as governments lift those orders. Healthcare jobs are typically spared in a recession—from home health aides to physical therapists. And of course the healthcare industry can be a great place to invest, especially in sectors like life sciences that are helping develop tests, vaccines and pharmaceuticals.


Construction jobs are largely insulated, although that could change if the real estate sector continues to dip. But, other positions that should withstand most crises are those related to necessary infrastructure-related functions, such as plumbers and electricians.


Computer- and technology-related jobs are likely to hold steady. Look for jobs in areas that support vital business activity, such as a computer support specialist, programmer or information security analyst, and investments that provide necessary hardware and software.


You may initially scoff, but while brick-and-mortar stores, particularly in malls, have been decimated, there are other areas that are thriving. Grocery stores have seen an uptick in jobs and sales, as have big-box stores. In a recession, discount outlets and DIY-focused stores should continue to do well as thrifty consumers reel in their spending. And large e-commerce players that sell basic goods and at-home products are doing particularly well.

Pet products

Fur babies rarely get short shrift, even if consumers are economizing in other areas. That means in addition to affection, they are likely to continue getting lavished with treats, toys, top-notch medical care, even gourmet food.

(This article written by: Cathie Ericson)

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