Students find good, bad news in the job market

Steven Harbaugh

For every college graduate who lands a first successful, high-paying job in his or her field, there is another college graduate working at a minimum-wage job and living at home. After enduring four or more years of Scantron tests and essays, landing that first job in your field of study seems like the logical next step. But it doesn?t always happen.

Some say the job market has improved, but the number of college graduates that move home and can?t find jobs is also increasing.

Good news on the job front?

In a survey conducted last summer by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the group found 13.1 percent of respondents are expected to increase the number of college graduates they planned to hire this year. An aging and retiring baby boomer generation and the arguable end of an economic recession are two reasons there might be an upturn, said Andrea Koncz, employment information manager for the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

?Employers mention to us that the economy is improving and their company is growing, and that they have more positions available to offer college graduates,? Koncz said.

But out of the 254 companies that responded to this survey, there were 746 that did not respond.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization in Washington, the number of unemployed college graduates actually surpassed the number of high school dropouts last year. In addition, research conducted by the U.S. Department of Bureau of Labor Statistics discovered that 18 percent of college graduates between now and 2006 may not find college-level jobs.

Despite the job market improving, the key to success is to develop multi-faceted skills that can apply to a variety of jobs, said Roberto Angulo, CEO of, a popular online job-hunting Web site.

?A lot of students that are studying information technology, for instance, might go into marketing,? Angulo said. ?We also see English majors with programming experience applying for Web development jobs.?

Career Services agrees.

?When you pick a degree like sociology or history, you should be sure and get experience outside your degree,? said Crystal Ake, a graduate assistant in the Career Services Office.

Moving back home

More than half of college graduates also reported they will live with their parents for at least one year after earning their degrees, according to a poll conducted by MonsterTRAK, a job Web site.

Approximately 12 million families, representing more than 10 percent of all families, had at least one child between 18 and 29 years old living at home in 2003, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey.

The reasons college graduates move home range from not being able to find a job to missing their family to feeling like they need some time off.

Living rent-free at home can surely save money, especially with the accumulation of student loan debt.

In a survey of 6,252 college graduates by, 68 percent had student loans of some kind.

Another option for graduates who don?t want to return home is to attend graduate school or to garner additional experience such as internships.

Despite the emphasis on experience, a diploma is not just a piece of paper, Angulo said.

?It?s not necessarily experience all employers are looking for,? Angulo said. ?I?ve noticed much more recruiting on college campuses.?

But select majors still offer more jobs, said Crystal Ake, graduate assistant in Career Services.

The best majors in today?s job market are business, finance, marketing, speech pathology and sales, Ake said. And companies that recruit for these positions are mostly the ones who participate in the career fair each semester.

According to a 2003 survey of 2001 Kent State graduates, 85 percent were employed, 12 percent were in graduate school, 2 percent were seeking employment and 1 percent were not employed.

?But that doesn?t show how many people are working in their field of study,? Ake said.

Contact religion and culture reporter Steven Harbaugh at