Despite a recent dip in job growth, the author explains why those with a bachelor’s shouldn’t worry too much.
The Labor Department’s job report for August is worse than economists had predicted. But experts and data suggest career opportunities are increasing for college students as the nation recovers from the recession.
The United States added only 96,000 non-farm jobs in August, while job growth since the start of 2012 has averaged 139,000 per month, the Labor Department reported in its monthly jobs report released Friday.
“The economy just isn’t growing fast enough to generate enough jobs,” economist Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics told USA TODAY.
And, according to USA TODAY, the fact that unemployment fell from 8.3% in July to 8.1% last month doesn’t indicate job growth either. The Labor Department calculates the result from a household survey, and in August, 368,000 Americans left the workforce, meaning they retired, stopped working or were too discouraged to look for work.
The segment of the population working or looking for a job — the labor force participation rate — also dropped to its lowest point in more than three decades.
Still, college students shouldn’t worry too much, as jobs that require bachelor’s degrees have increased by 2.2 million since the beginning of the recession, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce study released Aug. 15.
In fact, the unemployment rate for college graduates age 24 or younger has dropped in the past two years, the Associated Press reported in May. From January to April this year, the college graduate unemployment rate was at 7.2%, a 2% decrease for the same period in 2010.
“Today, the majority of U.S. jobs require a postsecondary degree or credential,” Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina Foundation, said in a Georgetown University statement. “This shift has happened quickly and it demonstrates how vital college attainment is to individual success and our nation as a whole.”
College graduates who demonstrate strong critical thinking skills are appealing to many employers, said Emory University Career Center Director Paul Fowler.
“There’s more demand for that, I’d say, than there is supply,” he said.
Emory’s employment rate for college graduates has risen 7% since 2009, according to Career Center data.
And, according to the Labor Department’s August jobs report, industries including food services and bars, professional and technical services and health care did see job gains last month, while federal, state and local governments cut about 7,000 jobs.
Professional and businesses services also added 28,000 jobs.
Justin Remer, a junior at Brown University and a student in the eight-year medical program, explained that while the decline in August jobs have caused him some trepidation, he is overall glad that students with bachelor’s degrees are still finding jobs.
“Students who invest a significant amount of time and money into an undergraduate education should have ample opportunity to find jobs after they graduate,” Remer said.
But some students are still worried.
“I know a lot of people who have gone through internships to get jobs rather than getting hired directly,” Emory junior Alex Nathanson said of his concerns about getting hired after graduation.
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