By ELIZABETH DANEFF
Capital News Service
LANSING — This year’s Michigan college graduates can expect fewer and lower paying job offers than were available in recent years, career analysts say.
In a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers are hiring 20 percent fewer college graduates than last year.
At Grand Valley State University, senior Jennifer Linderman of Spring Lake, hopes the prediction will not be an issue when she graduates. She plans to teach in an elementary school after graduation. “IÕm not sure where IÕll work when I get out,” she said.
“I just hope I can find a job doing what I went to school for. I canÕt imagine spending this much time and money to not find a job afterward.”
Phil Gardner, director of the Collegiate Employment Institute at Michigan State University, said college students are starting to see the effects of the recession.”More students are not getting offers after graduation,” Gardnersaid. “If the economy had stayed robust, we wouldÕve seen a lot of retirements, which wouldÕve allowed for greater hiring.”
Students who are facing the most difficult time landing a job are those in manufacturing, marketing and in the service sector, Gardner said. Areas that are consumer driven have been hardest hit.
Manufacturers expect to hire 30 percent fewer new college graduates than last year, while service hiring is down more than 24 percent, NACE reports.
But the economy is showing signs of turn around. The most recent report by the Michigan Department of Career Development shows a drop in unemployment from 6.5 percent in January, to 5.7 percent in February. MichiganÕs February unemployment rate was the lowest for the state since September 2001.
“The drop in the state jobless rate is a positive development,” said Barbara Bolin, director of the MDCD. “Although labor market patterns remain uncertain, this sharp decline in the unemployment rate is definitely good news for job seekers and employers.”
Gardner said students who majored in engineering, financing or health-related fields will find a strong hiring market.
At Michigan Technological University, students who participate in the Cooperative Education Program increase their odds of landing a job even before graduation. Nearly 500 students participate in the program each year, employed by more than 160 companies or organizations in the United States with which MTU has a cooperative education agreement.
MTU reports thatmore than 80 percent of students in the program are offered full-ime employment with their co-op employer. The money they earn can pay as much as 30 percent to 100 percent of their college expenses. For instance, the average hourly wage for a senior majoring in Electrical Engineering is $16.54, with almost a guaranteed job offer from their co-op employer at the end of the program.
“Obviously any major with a direct connection to the labor market is popular with employers,” Gardner said. “ThereÕs a lot of mortgage lending and rearranging of portfolios right now.
Gardner said, “A month ago I wouldÕve said accountants would have no trouble finding a job, but with everything thatÕs happened to Arthur Andersen, now IÕm not so sure.
” If they lay off 7,000 accountants like theyÕre forecasting, that could have an impact around the country.”
New teachers will also find it easier to land a job out of college. Although Gardner expects hiring in the Midwest to be slower than areas near the coast, the U.S. Department of Education reports that public schools will hire more than 2.2 million teachers in the next ten years.
The Lansing State Journal recently reported that the average teacher salary in Michigan is $50,694, compared to $43,335 nationwide. Michigan ranks 5th in the nation’s top teaching salaries, behind New Jersey, Connecticut, California and New York. Teachers’ salaries increased by 3 percent from 1991-2001 when adjusted for inflation.
Linderman said that for teachers, earning a top salary isn’t something often considered. “Everyone knows you donÕt go into teaching for the money. You do it because you love it.”
According to a recent report by CNN, first-year teachers now earn an average of $35,000 a year, which is well below many starting salaries in other fields.
Fields with higher starting salaries include accounting, computer science and chemical and computer engineering.
“Starting salaries may look encouraging for graduates in certain fields,” says Camille Luckenbaugh, NACE employment information manager. “But itÕs important to keep in mind that overall college hiring is down about 20 percent from last year.”
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By ELIZABETH DANEFF