Bringing the Economy Home

Dairy Farmers & Lumberjacks Make Worst Jobs List

David Paul Morris / Getty Images

California dairy farmer Pete Lepori with his Jersey cows.

The online job search site CareerCast has released its list of best and worst jobs for 2012.

Topping the worst list are two professions with a history in Idaho: dairy farmers and lumberjacks.

CareerCast ranked 200 jobs based on these factors: work environment, income, outlook, stress and physical demands.

Report publisher Tony Lee tells CNBC dairy farmers weren’t part of the 10 worst jobs last year.

“First, it’s a low-paying job. Second, it’s very dangerous working with large animals such as cows. ‘Moving the animals, [farmers] could get their feet crushed,’ Lee explained. ‘And there are more fatalities in dairy farming than ever before.’

Plus, the working conditions are tough — not only the obvious manure issue (though talk to a dairy farmer and he’ll tell you he doesn’t even smell it anymore) but also the fact that you have to get out there whether it’s 10 degrees or 100 degrees.

And the job outlook is tough: Dairy farming is increasingly becoming a corporate business, which is squeezing the little guys, Lee said.” –

There were 569 dairies in the state in 2011, according to the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.  That’s a drop from 800 dairies in 2008.  The latest in-depth study on Idaho’s dairy industry, from 2008, shows almost 11,000 people worked on dairy farms.

While dairy farmers have the second worst job, according to CareerCast, lumberjacks top the list.

Here’s more from CNBC:

“Lumberjack has always been one of the worst jobs — like dairy farmers, you’re working outside whatever the weather, in dangerous conditions, with low pay in an industry that took a huge hit during the recession (hello housing bust) and is increasingly being automated.

That being said, you’ll find a lot of lumberjacks who say they do it for their love of the outdoors and that they take great pride in their work.” –

Idaho’s Division of Financial Management reports the lumber and wood products industry employed about 10,000 people at its peak in 2006.  By 2010, fewer than 6,000 Idahoans were employed in the sector.  DFM forecasts industry jobs will continue to grow as the housing market turns around, but the division predicts there will still be fewer than 9,000 wood products jobs in Idaho in 2015.

Other jobs in CareerCast’s worst list include: broadcast reporter, newspaper reporter, waiter, enlisted soldier and dishwasher.  What’s the best job for 2012?  According to CareerCast it’s a software engineer.

You can find the full rankings, from best to worst, here.

Where is your job on the list? How would you rank your job?



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