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New College Grads Face Tough Job Market

September 6, 2011

Graduate Holding an Unemployed Sign New college graduates are discovering that landing a job in today's economy is tougher than ever.

The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, reported that in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the share of all people ages 16 to 24 with jobs stood at about 49 percent--the lowest figure since 1948. The employment data for August, which was released on Friday, unfortunately showed little change.

"Even when the economy is doing well, it's always a challenge when you're getting out of school," noted Gordon Kettle, an economics professor at Polk State College who was interviewed by the Ledger. "The problem is if they don't get in at a very young age, you run the risk of having a career delayed. You don't develop the skills and experience you need to move up the economic ladder within a normal time frame."

Part of the problem is that new college graduates are now competing with more experienced candidates who are unemployed. Kelly McGough, a branch manager with the Spherion staffing company in Lakeland, told the Ledger that he currently has executive assistants with a decade of experience, " ...and they're willing to take entry-level jobs because they'll take anything."

Kettle said that as a result, new graduates are more willing to accept jobs that pay low wages outside their chosen fields. A survey of 571 recent college graduates released in May by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers supports this conclusion: The study found that half of all recent graduates are working in jobs that did not require a degree.

Benjamin Shore, 23, who was interviewed by The New York Times, is one such example. He graduated from the University of Maryland last year with a business degree, but ultimately accepted a job at a Baltimore call center where he earns $12 an hour and encourages people to enroll at a university.

"There's no point in being diplomatic: it is horrible," he told the Times. "I am supposed to do something interesting, something with my brain."

Despite the gloomy news, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, reported that recent graduates face better prospects of landing a job than before. That's because a recent study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that employers plan to hire almost 20 percent more graduates this year than last year. Moreover, NACE found that 41 percent of graduates who applied for jobs this year had received an offer, while last year, just 38 percent had received offers.

"It's better than what we've seen in the past few years," said Andrea Koncz, a spokeswoman for NACE who was quoted by the Patriot-News. "Employers finally have more positions to offer new college graduates."


Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman

Sources:

"Generation Limbo: Waiting it Out," nytimes.com, August 31, 2011, Jennifer 8. Lee

"Recent Grads Find Job Competition Fierce," theledger.com, September 4, 2011, Kyle Kennedy

"Struggle to Find Employment Eases for College Graduates," pennlive.com, September 4, 2011, Ivey Dejesus

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