The economy has entered a serious funk with soaring costs, a declining housing market, limited access to credit and volatile stocks.

Consumers hoping for a raise to help offset those financial daggers may be out of luck: Unemployment reached a 22-year high of 5.5% in May. Americans have lost 324,000 jobs so far this year.

Much of the decline has come from construction, manufacturing and retail industries, the Labor Department said in its employment report on Friday. Health care led the charge in adding new jobs.

"Discouraged workers were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them," the agency said.

Still, a closer look at the subcategories shows which specific jobs have posted the sharpest declines so far this year, and where there could be room for further growth.

The Winners

1. Pipelines: Pipeline transportation has been the fastest-growing job this year, adding 3.7% to its work force. Such structures transport oil, natural gas, water, sewage and other types of liquids and gases along pipes around the U.S. It makes up a small portion of the job market -- 42,300 jobs out of 138 million -- but could still add more employment as petroleum consumption grows and Americans move to new areas that need further infrastructure.

2. Mining and oil and gas extraction: Knowledge of minerals, geography and fuel extraction has been helpful in 2008. Mining support jobs have grown 3.6% so far, while the overall mining industry has expanded 2.3%. Jobs related to oil and gas extraction grew 2.1%. Key skills for such jobs include taking geological samples, exploring prospective sites, excavating pits, digging for minerals and tasks related to oil and gas extraction.

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