Job market for college grads better but still weak

Many settling for jobs outside their fields of study or for less pay than expected
Associated Press
Apr 23, 2014

With college commencement ceremonies nearing, the government is offering a modest dose of good news for graduating seniors: The job market is brightening for new grads — a bit.

But finding work — especially a dream job — remains tough for those just graduating. Many are settling for jobs outside their fields of study or for less pay than they'd expected or hoped for.

The Labor Department on Tuesday said the unemployment rate for 2013 college graduates — defined as those ages 20 to 29 who earned a four-year or advanced degree — was 10.9 percent. That was down from 13.3 percent in 2012 and was the lowest since 7.7 percent in 2007. The drop reflects the steady recovery in overall U.S. economic growth and hiring.

But unemployment for recent grads was still higher than the 9.6 percent rate for all Americans ages 20 to 29 last October, when the government collected the numbers.

"I'm finding that all these entry-level jobs are requiring experience I don't have or degrees that are just unattainable right out of college," says Howard Rudnick, 23, who graduated last year in political science from Florida Atlantic University and wound up earning $25,000 a year working for an online shoe company.

"The worst part is that I'm afraid at some point I may have to go back to school to better myself and take on more debt just so I can get a better-paying job."

Over time, though, Americans who have college degrees are still far more likely to find employment and to earn more than those who don't. And while opportunities for new college grads remain too few, they're increasing.

"It really is getting better," says Jean Manning-Clark, director of the career center at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. She says more automotive and steel companies are now looking at the school's graduates, joining energy and technology companies that have been actively recruiting for several years.

Last year's female graduates fared better than men: 9 percent were unemployed as of October last year, compared with 13.7 percent of men. Analysts note that the economy has been generating jobs in many low-wage fields — such as retail and hotels — that disproportionately employ women

"It seems like the jobs that are growing fastest are jobs that are low-wage jobs, service jobs," says Anne Johnson, executive director of Generation Progress, an arm of the liberal Center for American Progress that studies youth issues.

Other fields that attract women — including health care — weren't hit as hard by the recession.

Philip Gardner, director of Michigan State University's Collegiate Employment Research Institute, says women also "have skill sets that employers want... They have better communications skills. They have better interpersonal skills. They are more willing to work in teams."

Alexa Staudt's job search lasted just three weeks. Before graduating from the University of Texas last spring, Staudt, 23, had landed an administrative position at an online security company in Austin.

"I had marketable skills from my internships" in event planning, marketing and copy-editing and experience working as a receptionist for a real-estate firm, Staudt says.

She's happy with the job and the chance to stay in Austin.

Yet the McKinsey & Company consultancy last year found that 41 percent of graduates from top universities and 48 percent of those from other schools could not land jobs in their chosen field after graduation.

Even in good times, many college graduates need time to find a good job. But researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded earlier this year that "it has become more common for underemployed college graduates to find themselves in low-wage jobs or to be working part time."

The Labor Department reports that 260,000 college graduates were stuck last year working at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That's down from a peak of 327,000 in 2010. But it's more than double the 127,000 in 2007, the year the recession began.

"Every way you cut it, young college grads are really having trouble — much more trouble than they used to have," says Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute. "The labor market is not producing decent jobs."

In a study last year, economists at the University of British Columbia and York University in Canada found that college graduates were more likely to be working in routine and manual work than were graduates in 2000; technology was eliminating some mid-level jobs that graduates used to take. The result is that many have had to compete for jobs that don't require much education.

Their sobering conclusion:

"Having a B.A. is less about obtaining access to high-paying managerial and technology jobs and more about beating less-educated workers for the barista or clerical job."

Comments

Whiskey Tango F...

Not here in good ol' Sandusky! We have amazing part time employment opportunities at or famous cedar point, kalahari, and other tourist traps! Not interested? How about CONDOS? Who doesn't like condos? Maybe Walmart, Meijer, Menards, Lowes, or "the" Home Depot? All of these AMAZING, SEASONAL, PART-TIME, MINIMUM WAGE, opportunities await you once you earn that great education and choose to come home to our FABULOUS CITY OF SANDUSKY!

The Bizness

We need our leaders to be actively trying to grab companies to locate here. We have tons of resources to offer with location to the lake, NASA, railway, and highways/turnpike. I think we would be a perfect location for an Amazon Distribution location, SpaceX or Tesla location, Some renewable energy manufacturing? I do send emails out to companies to look at our area, although I am sure they are just ignored, but hey I at least try right?

Whiskey Tango F...

UPDATE!!! There are a few new openings! CITY MANAGER, FIRE CHIEF, and all other revolving door inbred political positions that are open or will be soon! Jesus himself can come down from the cross to try and fill these positions, but he too would run back to Jerusalem once he found out what this town is all about!

ohioengineer

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." When I graduated from college (more years ago than I care to remember), I wanted to design spaceships. But instead I found a job market so poor that engineers were driving taxis. After months of scrambling, I managed to find a decent job, but it was far from home in an industry I had never considered before graduation. However, this job opened doors for me and I never looked back.

The point is that despite all the promises of our politicians, there no guarantees in life. But with preparation, hard work and a willingness to try new things, this country still offers incredible opportunities to its young people. Unfortunately, these opportunities often come disguised in shabby clothes.

The New World Czar

A tale of two scenarios:

"...who graduated last year in political science from Florida Atlantic University and wound up earning $25,000 a year working for an online shoe company."

"...more automotive and steel companies are now looking at the school's graduates, joining energy and technology companies"

You have to make yourself marketable and then take what the market bears.

Really are you ...

All of these highly educated younger college grads are finding it hard to find employment in their fields of study. How is China creating an industrial manufacturing boom? By taking our manufacturing jobs, maybe. Instead of settling for working for some company that has possibly hundreds of people making that company and CEO massive amounts of money. These grads use their top notch education on how certain thing work, start their own business, and have possibly hundreds of people making themselves and their own company massive amounts of money? Why? From personal experience, it could possibly be fear. Fear of failure. Uncertainty of the appropriate steps to be taken for assured success in building a company. When making a new product, fear of missteps taken that would destroy their dreams and beliefs. But then one would have to remind themselves that Rome wasn't but in one day. Or, Micheal Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Or, Thomas Edison found one thousand ways not to make a lightbulb light.

These grads need to use their fields and start new businesses to replace the one we have been losing to foreign or other state competition.

Whiskey Tango F...

Our tax laws and regulations do not cultivate a fertile ground for new business start-ups. Most companies are designed to be bought out by bigger corporate greed. Finally the cost of hiring employees, benefits, overhead, and all of the other costs quickly out weigh the "chance" your idea might take hold. How can you make money at the ford plant when no one on the line makes enough to buy the product they assemble?
Finally your buddy Edison there stole most of his patents and inventions off of the employees who couldn't afford to go on their own. Research a guy named Tesla and see what happens when you are right and your boss is wrong!

Really are you ...

Yes I have done plenty of research on both Edison and Tesla. Edison was a trial and error inventor who, after a lucky break, had scientists working for him. Tesla was a mathematical wizard who solved all of his research problems in his head before he built his prototypes. Working alone on his projects, Tesla died a broke and lonely old man. Two different approaches at improving quality of life. In the end, two different qualities of life were endured by these men.

So what path should these grads take? Bottle up there knowledge. And try to build their empire that way? Or go to the other way and start a process in motion. Then reap the rewards of other peoples ingenuity?

Whiskey Tango F...

I guess I was trying to show that our area has failed our best and brightest. There is NOTHING here to retain them. It feels like we almost go out of our way to drive them away. If we would spend our resources trying to attract anything other than condos, and water parks, these college grads would be looking here for employment, housing, schools, and a great place to raise a family. Instead we attract uneducated, welfare dependent, drug dealer/gang bangers to pollute our area.
Want to see sandusky recover? Convince a university to move downtown. Give them our free buildings and grants to build their campus. Rent will go up due to student housing, and slum will be displaced. Masters degrees and PhD's will move here to be professors.
Or we can just build more condos.

Nemesis

"All of these highly educated younger college grads are finding it hard to find employment in their fields of study."

Not all. It depends upon the field of study. As college attendance increased in the last quarter of the 20th century, so did the number of pseudo-degrees in made up, fad, and political axe grinding majors.

Our post-secondary education system is chock full of students who choose worthless courses of study in order to avoid math, hard science, and any other subject where their precious self-esteem might wither at the prospect of having to produce uniquely right answers.

Dr. Information

The cities that are getting business's to come are those that are business friendly. Our state needs to revamp everything to get more jobs here.