Prospects improve for grads this year
With the economy slowly recovering from a recession, this year may be the brightest for college graduates entering the labor market.
The unemployment rate in Arizona has dropped by 2.4 percent. Although the country has been out of the recession since June 2009, entry-level job prospects have been slowly improving along with the economy, said Marshall Vest, director of the economic and business research center.
“This slow improvement is much better than what we have seen since the recession started in late 2007,” Vest said.
As the state unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent from 11 percent, prospective candidates will have a better chance of finding job opportunities than they did last year, he said.
This recession has been the longest and worst recession with the slowest improvement since the Great Depression, said Gerald Swanson, an adjunct economics professor. While the economy has been improving, the country is still in a fragile state, he said, and cannot afford any shocks such as a terrorist attack or a spike in oil prices.
Although the U.S. economy is starting to improve, it could be hurt in the long run by the recession that Europe is facing, Swanson said. Europe is a big trading partner with the U.S., he said, and the region’s current economic status could stop it from buying U.S. goods.
The economy is expected to continuously improve as the unemployment rates dropped from 10 percent to 8.2 percent nationwide, but it has a “long way to go before it can go back to normal,” prior to the recession in 2007.
In 2010, Arizona’s unemployment levels were the highest they had been since the recession began, at 11 percent. Although it has been a slow recovery, the situation still provides a better environment for college graduates to find a job than it has been in previous years, Vest said.
“We are a very fragile economy,” Swanson said. “Several things can tip us back into recession, but if nothing changes, we will just have a slow recovery.”
Many graduates have been discouraged by the slow economic improvement, and some are going to graduate school simply because they can’t find a job, he said.
“But the opportunity of going into grad school won’t work if the outcome is not providing many jobs,” Swanson added.
Vest projected that the economy will not “dramatically improve” until 2015.
Improvement has been slow, but job opportunities are definitely there, said Susan Miller, marketing and special events coordinator for Career Services. “Students must treat their job search like a real job,” Miller said. “Things will come together, but you need to perfect your resume and put the effort into it.”
Kerry McLaughlin, a business management senior, said she has been using career-finding services to help her find jobs upon graduation. McLaughlin said it has been a competitive environment, but students just have to be patient and self-motivated.
“It can be a nerve-wracking process, but students can’t take it personally if they get rejected from the first try,” she said. “Students will find a job eventually but they just need to stay positive and remain in the game.”