College Graduates Struggle In Grim Job Market

May 23, 2011

Sad unemployed college graduateDespite news of the job market slowly improving, recent college graduates are still struggling to find employment. According to CNN, a new report showed that many recent graduates are still searching for their first full-time job, which is increasing competition for the class of 2011 as they enter the labor force.

Findings were based on interviews with almost 600 graduates from the classes of 2006 through 2010 at four-year colleges and universities across the nation and were released by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. The report showed that a little more than half of recent college grads were working full-time and that half of those who were working had jobs that did not require a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, 43 percent of 2009 and 2010 graduates reported that they were working in a field that was unrelated to their major, compared to 22 percent of those who graduated before the recession.

Median starting salaries for recent graduates was also lower than in previous years--those who graduated in 2009 and 2010 earned a median starting salary of $27,000, which is 10 percent lower than what the classes of 2006 and 2007 earned after graduating.

The report noted that major choice often made a difference. As The Wall Street Journal reported, students who majored in computer science, accounting, economics and engineering were in high demand, whereas English and education majors struggled to find jobs.

"It really makes a difference what your background is," said Till Marco von Wachter, a Columbia University economist who has studied the long-term effect of graduating in the midst of a recession.

According The Work Buzz, experience also helped those who could find a job boost their starting salaries--those who completed at least one internship while in school earned an average starting salary of $34,680.

The report also picked up on some interesting trends. According to CNN, although most grads were satisfied with their college education, many reported that they would have done things differently if they could do it over again. For example, 48 percent said they would have chosen a major more carefully, 47 percent would have done more internships or worked part-time in a related field and 38 percent said they would have started looking for a job sooner.

On a positive note, The Wall Street Journal reported that for those looking for work in the private sector, job prospects should be a bit brighter--19 percent of private sector employers said they plan to hire more new graduates this year than they did in 2010, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Some companies even reported that they would offer bonuses this year.

Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said that the class of 2011 has an advantage as they have access to on-campus recruiting and are entering the labor force just as the job market is beginning to pick up steam.

"It's the class of 2009 and 2010 who are now going to face... even harder odds," said Shierholz.

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


"For recent grads the real world proves tough, but not impossible," theworkbuzz.com, May 20, 2011, Kaitlin Madden

"Fresh out of college, slim hope for a job," CNN.com, May 19, 2011, Carl E. Van Horn and Cliff Zukin

"Private Sector Lifts Grads' Job Outlook," online.wsj.com, May 21, 2011, Sara Murray and Joe Light

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