Friday, October 23, 2009

College Grads Get Optimistic New Job Outlook

"We've had three consecutive quarters of growth as it relates to jobs being added to the economy. We did take a big hit, especially in the manufacturing heavy areas like Elkhart. But, I think we're back on the right track," Jackson said.

This year, Jackson has seen something absent in recent springs: recruiters calling him for help finding employees.

"We're seeing conservative recruitment from hospitality--the hotel industry, banking, the service industry, and not-for-profit interest is up. Last year we didn't have as many companies calling us. This year, we do. And, actually we've had a number of them contact us this week. That's somewhat surprising," Jackson said.

Still, that doesn't mean things are suddenly easy for soon-to-be grads.

Nationally, the unemployment rate for those ages 18-24 remains at 15.8 percent, almost a full 6 percent higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.9 percent.

The NACE report shows that may be playing into the sudden increase in hiring for new college grads.

This year, 39 percent of seniors taking part in the study reported they had received job offers, and 59 percent of those students took the job. Last year, 40 percent of responding seniors were offered jobs, but only 45 percent accepted them.

“There appears to be a greater awareness of the economic realities among this year’s graduates, and greater flexibility in the types of jobs they will consider,” NACE executive director Marilyn Mackes wrote in the survey.

"It's very frustrating," said IUSB student Laura Morris, graduating with a degree in criminal justice, but still without a full-time job. "I'm ready to get out there and work, and nobody wants me. They don't want people with no experience."

"It's very difficult to get interviews right now," agreed Leslie Star, graduating with a degree in mass communications. "I'm still searching."

Jackson says--while lack of experience can be a negative for some employers, for others it's a positive.
"Sometimes that experience can cost a company a lot more, and that may be money they don't have right now," he said.

Proof of that may lie in another NACE study, released in April. According to that study, new college grads in 2010 will earn almost $800 less this year on average than they did last year. Starting salary offers for new graduates holding bachelor's degrees in 2010 average $47,673 this year, down from $48,815 last year.

Still, Jackson is confident the outlook for college grads has turned a corner, and you don't have to convince Haviland or Vogel.

"I fell like the market's getting better, I definitely do," Haviland said.

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