Education: Teaching and other education-related careers also attract job-changers, but there's a difference: The need here is much likelier to be long term.

Due in part to the large number of teachers who now are retiring, combined with increasing student enrollments, there are lots of job openings, particularly in areas like math, science and special education -- and especially in urban and rural districts.

Kelly Herndon, director of recruitment for the Gwinnett County Public Schools in Lawrenceville, Ga., said that despite state budget cuts, the district is still looking to hire 1,000 teachers for the fall.

  • Regions: Job hunters can often boost their chances substantially if they're willing to relocate. Areas of Southern California, such as Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties, are creating thousands of additional jobs each month.

    "We think of the California economy as not being very strong," said Steve Cochrane, an economist at Economy.com. "But when you divide the state between north and south, it's like two separate economies."

    And then, there's Las Vegas, which has been one of the fastest-growing parts of the country for the past decade. While the United States lost more than a half-million jobs over the year ended June 2003, Clark County, Nev., gained 26,500. One economist projects an employment growth rate of 20 percent over the next five years.

    The growth isn't only coming in low-paying jobs in restaurants and casinos, but in technical fields as well. Five more hospitals are being planned in Clark County, whose significant health-care industry is drawing a wide range of pharmaceutical and research companies.

    "You're going to see a real health-care boom here," said Somer Hollingsworth, president of the Nevada Development Authority in Las Vegas. He added that retail employment in the county grew by 6,000 jobs in the past year.

    In Northern Virginia, Loudoun County boasted the nation's largest percentage increase in employment over the year ended June 2003, at 5.2 percent. That growth rate results in part from the large number of small defense subcontractors in the county that benefited from the growth in business fueled by national security spending and the war in Iraq.

    NLX Corp. of Sterling, Va., a unit of aircraft communication and navigation equipment supplier Rockwell Collins Inc., currently has about 50 openings, ranging from engineering to administrative jobs, said Division President Tony Syme.

    In southwest Florida's Lee County, jobs grew by almost 9,000, an increase of 4.6 percent, over the period. Credit a number of companies that have relocated to the region, drawn by the low cost of doing business, inexpensive housing and the absence of a state income tax.

    Source Interlink Cos., a magazine distributor with 21 offices nationwide, decided to consolidate and move its base to Bonita Springs, Fla., almost two years ago. The company was drawn by the quality of life, affordability and the region's tech-savvy labor pool.

    After just one job fair, company president Jim Gillis said he staffed half of his office headquarters. The headquarters has grown to 400 workers, from only 40 when it opened in July 2002.