December 2015 graduates face favorable outlook on job market and economy

Alonso Moreno, Copy Editor

As winter 2015 commencement approaches, hundreds of graduates can look to the future with hope as positive trends in the job market and the economy favor the timing of graduation.

According to the National Associate of Colleges and Employers job outlook 2016 survey; employers plan to hire 11 percent more new college graduates from the class of 2016.

This represents a slight improvement from their previous spring 2015 survey, which indicated an end-of-year hiring increase of about 10 percent.

Unemployment is also down, The Wall Street Journal tracked the unemployment rate at 9.5 percent overall in November 2010. The numbers for November 2015 are not out yet, but for October they were reported at 5 percent overall, continuing a small but steady decline since 2010.

Although there is no perfect blueprint to follow for success in the job market, Dr. Thomas Fullerton, chair for the Study of Trade in the Americas and professor of Economics, said that having a college degree provides an entry to a workforce with the lowest unemployment rate.

“As long as they graduate from college they are going to be treated better by the job market than somebody that had not gradated from college; at least on average,” Fullerton said. “The unemployment rates for different worker categories clearly show there is an inverse relationship between educational attainment and unemployment.”

The Wall Street Journal also tracked the unemployment rate for individuals who hold at least bachelor’s degree, showing that in October 2015 their overall unemployment rate is 2.5 percent.

Fullerton said that the trend of unemployment is pretty clear, the less educated workers are those that face the steeper markets. People with only some college education have an overall unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, still below the overall average as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Those that only have a high school diploma or less, face a much steeper climb, as they are above the overall average, with high school grads having 5.2 percent and those with less than high school being at 7.4 percent.

“Well it’s no secret really, since you were young, teachers, parents and a lot of people let you know that college is the best option if you want to get ahead in life,” said Enrique Portugal, a graduating senior with a Spanish degree. “But it’s also about flexibility, you have to be able to apply what you study in different ways to be more marketable and increase your chances of a landing a great job.”

The allure of a high-demand job or a lucrative salary are the two biggest factors for students when it comes to deciding what to focus on, but this might not always be the best train of thought for students.

“There are number of practical decision that can be made in this regard (picking a career path), so if somebody is not sure what to study and does not have a strong desire to study a specific field, then it might make sense to study something like business management,” Fullerton said. “It’s a general all-purpose degree plan, but it allows that student to compete for jobs in the private sector.”

On the other hand, Fullerton said that even though some students are entering college with very specific educational objectives in mind, many of them will find themselves working in other fields.

According to a CareerBuilder study done in 2013, one-third of college-educated workers do not work in a job related to their college major. The study also revealed that nearly 47 percent of college-educated workers said that their first job after college was not related to their college major. 32 percent said they never found a job related to their college major.

“You know, it’s a feeling that we all (students) get–not knowing really what you will end up doing,” said Africa Deleon, a graduating senior, who is unsure about her future in the job market. “I know what I am good at, but in my case, I am starting to see a better outlook on my minor than what I previously believed. It pays to be smart about your education as well as having different plans in case something does not work out the way you envisioned it.”

Alonso Moreno may be reached at [email protected]