Employment Guide: Recession ends, job prospects increase

By Marissa Meredyth

Students have one less thing to worry about now that classes have started: Job prospects might… Students have one less thing to worry about now that classes have started: Job prospects might be looking up for those graduating in a year or two.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, college hiring is projected to slightly rebound in time for 2011 grads to feel the effects.

Employers who took part in NACE’s Job Outlook 2011 survey anticipated hiring 13.5 percent more new college graduates from the class of 2011 than they hired from the class of 2010.

The unemployment rate, however, currently at 9.6 percent — a 27-year high — is likely remain about the same.

Alexis Leon, a lecturer in Pitt’s economics department, specializes in the labor market.

Leon said that whether the country sees a small growth in the economy or another small contraction, the unemployment rate will continue to hover around 9 to 10 percent.

“Often the labor market lags behind the rest of the economy,” Leon said. “Regardless of whether or not we are entering a double-dip recession, finding a job will most likely remain difficult for years to come.”

Recent graduates have mixed feelings about the job market.

Kim Garafola graduated from Pitt with a linguistics major in the spring and is still looking for a job.

“It’s been difficult for me to find one,” Garafola said. “I have a few friends who have been fortunate, but most say that market is really tough right now.”

Many recent graduates are taking positions they are overqualified for. Garafola works as a server at a T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant.

“People don’t blame me for waiting tables,” Garafola said, “especially when we all know we have to start paying back our student loans soon.”

Leon said we might also continue to see more graduates avoiding the job market by taking internships or continuing their studies.

“What is good news is that unemployment is lower across the board for those with a college education,” Leon said. “But the bad news is that the younger you are, the higher the unemployment rate is.”

Unemployment for recent graduates is in double digits across the country but is not specifically calculated by the Department of Labor.

The DOL calculates unemployment statistics by age group, so young people without a college degree would be included in the same category as recent graduates. The department also calculates by degree, but does not differentiate between older degree holders and the newly certified.

A graduate’s job prospects also differ based on the type of degree chosen by the student, Leon said.

For example, graduates with degrees in engineering or business often have an easier time finding positions.

Erin Kerchner graduated from Pitt in the spring with a major in marketing.

Kerchner found a job as an admissions representative for Education Management Corporation. The company runs several post-secondary schools, including the Art Institutes, Argosy University and Brown Mackie College.

“It was pretty easy for me to find a job,” Kerchner said. “This is in no way what I thought I’d be doing,” she said, “but I do like it.”