A recent report by the Center for Labor Market Studies of Boston's Northeastern University comes to this sober conclusion: the highest paying jobs are also the most secure jobs.
This report, which studies how each income group in America is withstanding the recession/depression (based on fourth quarter 2009 data), concludes that household income and underemployment are inexorably linked. The lowest decile of households have the greatest underemployment (20.6% for households with incomes under $12,000) while the most employed households are at the highest decile (1.6% underemployment for households with incomes greater than $138,000).
Incidence of Underemployment (%)
For anyone who worries about people who have the least—the least money, the least access, the least opportunity—these are matters of grave concern. Step back, however, from the emotional and moral aspects of this decaying social picture and view it purely from an economic perspective. The analysis is quite simple: The more valuable you are (in purely capitalistic terms), the more job security you have.
In America, you'll find those who own their own businesses hold the greatest accumulation of wealth and therefore are the most secure--both financially and professionally. In a survey I co-sponsored in 2006, households with greater than $1 million in net worth (456 households surveyed) felt they could maintain their current standard of living for 13.4 months without income while households with less than $1 million (2,388 households surveyed) predicted only 3.5 months of run room without income.
This makes sense. Most Americans can only draw down on credit cards or meager savings in a cash flow crunch. The wealthier you are the more pockets you can pull from, such as your home equity, your savings and you business and personal credit.
It's interesting that most people believe entrepreneurialism to be the path of greatest risk when in fact it delivers quite a bit of job security. After all, if you had to cut back on staff, who would you fire last?
Labor Underutilization Problems of U.S. Workers Across Household Income Groups at the End of the Great Recession by Andrew Sum and Ishwar Khatiwada
The Influence of Affluence by Lewis Schiff and Russ Alan Prince