College Grads’ Job Prospects Improving

Like the happy graduates pictured above, the job market for the class of 2012 college graduates is looking up. According to an annual survey of companies’ new-hiring expectations, about 10.2 percent more new graduates will find entry-level jobs this year than last. With the overall U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest level since 2009, the 1.7 million students who will graduate this spring should fare somewhat better. Monthly job growth has been consistently positive since February 2010, as 4.1 million new jobs have been added to the U.S. economy.

Recent graduating classes have faced weak demand for their services in general, but opportunities for those who have earned a bachelor’s degree differ from one field to another. For example, demand for workers is stronger in science, education, and health-related fields, whereas graduates in the arts and humanities tend to face bleaker prospects.

Things can’t get much worse for college graduates: the recession and the sluggish economic recovery have left many young college graduates either unemployed or underemployed in lower-wage jobs for which they are overqualified. In fact, when underemployment is factored in, job prospects for college graduates with bachelor’s degrees fell in 2011 to the lowest level in more than 10 years. “Glass-half-empty” observers note how difficult the situation still remains, especially for graduates with high levels of student loan debt to repay.

Economists caution that the near-term employment picture for college graduates should lead young adults to give serious thought to their choices regarding what level of schooling to pursue, which academic field to go into, which college to attend, and especially how to pay for it. These decisions and choices, more than ever, will have major financial impacts. Aggregate U.S. student loan debt is near the $1 trillion mark, as the cost of a higher education has continued to rise.

Image credit: © Creatas/Jupiterimages/Getty Images

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  1. Kendall Nicole Goldman says:

    this is amazing and guess what I am in colledge

  2. Enes says:

    Folks need to be more entrepreneurial midned, which they were never trained to be. They were taught to get a job out of school and work for decades and then retire. Those days are over.I’m in my early 40s and got into IT and there are so many jobs (and better yet contracts) that it’s not funny. Plus I’m now learning mobile application development so tons to learn. Luckily I developed a voracious appetite for learning which helps.I’ve answered lots of questions in forums and built up a reputation so that you don’t even need to be interviewed anymore and I work remotely here in New Brunswick. I wish more people would take the plunge and remove the fear they have to make the change.