US college graduates face mixed job market

College graduates in the United States face a mixed job market, according to the latest Recruiting Trends annual report from Michigan State University (MSU).

While for most graduates the market is growing, for those with MBAs it is shrinking, mainly because of massive layoffs in the banking sector.

Report author Dr. Phil Gardner, an economist and director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute, says:

“The college labor market is starting to heat up with double-digit expansion in some areas.”

However, because of the labor-shedding in the finance industries, hiring of workers with new MBAs will fall by around 25% compared with last year, he warns.

The Recruiting Trends 2013-2014 report, now in its 43rd edition, suggests that across all degrees, the job market is expected to go up by 2% for college graduates. It anticipates a huge 26% rise for jobs requiring doctoral degrees, and a 7% surge for those requiring bachelor degrees.

Labor market for college graduates progressing steadily

Dr. Gardner said:

“The market has progressed steadily during the past four years and a more robust market may be just around the corner.”

For the report the authors drew on a survey of nearly 6,500 employers across the US, thought to be the largest to tap the nation’s college labor market.

The decline in hiring of all new degree holders across the financial services industry is expected to be around 40%.

Dr. Gardner says banks are shedding jobs in mortgage units and other departments and this is having a knock-on effect in neighboring sectors like real estate and underwriting.

Government positions for college graduates are also expected to fall by around 20%, he adds. The volatile political environment in Washington following the recent government sequestration has left many agencies nervous about taking on new hires.

However, in other sectors the picture is much more optimistic. Manufacturing is expecting to take on 23% more college graduates, not-for-profits 11%, education 9% and retail 2% more, than last year.

The report also suggests that those taking on new graduates will also be offering around 5% higher salaries, with packages based on commission likely to be offered more frequently.

However, Dr. Gardner says many of the employers surveyed were disappointed by the lack of preparedness among graduates, and that:

“The best jobs will go to the graduates who know where they want to go, know how to get there and have a network of professional relationships they can tap for assistance with their job search.”

On 17 November, MBN brought news of a report that found many college graduates never find jobs related to their degree.