Hiring drops off for recent graduates

Hiring of new college graduates is slowing down more than any time since the recession, though most employers are still gunning for students in business or technical fields, according to a national report released Thursday.

Companies that are part of National Association of Colleges and Employers survey plan to hire 2.1 percent more new college graduates than they did last year, down from the 13 percent growth they projected last fall.

The slowdown comes after two straight years that employers in the survey projected a hiring flourish. They expected to add at least 10 percent more new college graduates in the last two years.

Predicted job growth for 2013 graduates

Media Credit:source: National Association of Colleges and Employers

Employers do expect to pay new graduates more, NACE found in a separate survey this month. Starting salaries are up 5.3 percent for the Class of 2013, with even larger increases in business and health sciences.

“This is a positive market for new college grads, but there just may not be quite as many positions open at this time,” said Andrea Koncz, an analyst who worked on both reports. “Most of the time [employers will] tell us it’s just a product of the economy.”

Companies’ hiring expectations have tapered off during a spring season that has seen a job growth slowdown across the country. As the economy has recovered, low-wage sectors like food services have helped to prop up national employment numbers.

In the short term, Koncz said a sluggish macroeconomic picture is bad news. Employers nationwide only added about 88,000 jobs last month – a disappointing report as the country tries to recover.

Nearly one-third of respondents plan to roll back their hiring of college grads.

Only 12 percent of respondents said they planned to hire humanities majors, and one-fifth said they were after graduates with social sciences degrees. More than half said they would likely hire students who majored in business, accounting, engineering or computer sciences.

Josh Hoberman, a senior English major, has interviewed for about six jobs in media and advertising over the last few months. He said while he may have a job by graduation with a production company in Silver Spring, Md., the search has been stressful.

“The issue that I’ve seen nowadays is that, opposed to people applying for jobs before the recession and trying for entry-level positions against other undergrads, now people like me are competing against MBAs or people with law degrees, and it’s ridiculous. It makes it a lot harder,” Hoberman said.

Shadi Bakour, a senior majoring in finance, is thinking of creating his own business after trying to search for a job through GWork, which he said was “no help at all.”

“With the difficult job market, it is pretty limited right now,” he said.

GW graduates will enter the job market as the University Career Center looks to tighten links with employers. The center’s new leader, Assistant Provost Rachel Brown, said in an email Sunday that record turnout from employers at GW’s internship and career fairs should bode well for new graduates.

The center will also launch its first resume book for the Class of 2013. The book will be distributed to targeted employers, Brown said.

NACE surveyed 196 companies, ranging from Northrop Grumman Corporation to the Coca Cola Company in February and March. About 27 percent of respondents were in the Northeast.

Some of those companies are likely hiring college graduates who are more skilled than the positions they seek, said Tamara Jayasundera, a research professor at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

With a larger pool of unemployed workers competing with new graduates, employers are in a buyer’s market, she said.

“Having a college degree makes sure that you have less of a risk and a higher advantage of getting a job,” she said. “But in this job market, sometimes we see cases where some graduates are working below their skill level. Maybe some that don’t fully utilize their skills.”

Graduates looking for jobs in D.C. will see plenty of openings, though they will compete against plenty of others as young professionals flock to the city, Jayasundera said.

Anuyha Bobba contributed reporting

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