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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Back in 2009, when the Great Recession was sharpening its teeth on the ankles of American workers, whispers about what careers were disappearing grew louder in work management circles. Now it looks like some of those careers are coming back, with bigger and fatter paychecks than ever., an online career portal, recently named the top ‘comeback jobs’ of 2011, and surprisingly, tax preparers are leading the list.

Tax specialists saw their average salary spike 29.59% from 2009 to 2011, rising from $27,682 to $39,314 today. The bump up in pay might have something to do with the tepid economy: Americans may be turning to tax specialists to wring out some more cash from their tax returns, which would certainly make sense at a time when underemployment has reached 19% of the population.

Finishing second in the job-comeback derby is another oft-maligned occupation: customer service representative. CareerBliss says the salary for customer care representatives is up 26.17% over the past two years, from $29,335 to $39,732, perhaps because companies looking for an edge in a tough economy needed to hire the best people to keep their customers happy.

The third-fastest growing career field is legal services, where law clerks saw a 24.77% jump in pay from 2009 to 2011. Average salaries have risen from $42,141 to $56,016 in that time as law firms, perhaps anticipating a better economy in coming months, have increased their staff in greater numbers and at greater pay.

“The new data show for these ‘Top 50 Comeback Jobs’ the job market is definitely improving,” says Career Bliss in a written statement. The company used 6 million data points to compile its list:

Occupation, Salary Change

  • Tax preparer, 29.59%
  • Customer service, 26.17%
  • Law clerk, 24.77%
  • Sales director, 23.83%
  • Operations manager, 19.64%
  • Project leader, 18.15%
  • Sales agent, 18.00%
  • Senior QA analyst, 16.67%
  • Tech recruiter, 16.40%
  • Tech support, 16.39%

Unfortunately, the list is loaded with service jobs and has a dearth of manufacturing jobs, which have traditionally been the backbone of the U.S. economy.

“We have seen a 78% increase in open jobs across many of our job types, including the top 10listed in our data,” says Matt Miller, co-founder and chief technology officer of CareerBliss. “Technical recruiters and sales agents job openings have more than doubled and their salary levels are on the rise. This data are consistent with our research that not only is the job market improving, but so too is the salary level for many of these jobs.”

It’s hard to argue with 6 million data points. If the site is on the money, then the U.S. economy isn’t in as bad shape as we think, and that’s good news for all of us.

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