Job market mixed for college grads

November 20, 2013
College graduates will experience an improving job market this year, although those with an MBA may find tough sledding, according to Michigan State University's annual Recruiting Trends report. Credit: Michigan State University

A steadily improving job market will greet most college graduates this year, although those with a newly minted MBA may find tough sledding, according to Michigan State University's annual Recruiting Trends report.

Due largely to huge layoffs in the banking industry, hiring for workers with new MBAs will decline about 25 percent over last year, predicts Phil Gardner, an economist and director of MSU's Collegiate Employment Research Institute.

Hiring for all degrees, however, is expected to increase 3 percent. This is led by a 26 percent jump for those with doctoral degrees and a 7 percent surge for those with bachelor's degrees.

"The college labor is starting to heat up with double-digit expansion in some areas," said Gardner. "The market has progressed steadily during the past four years and a more robust market may be just around the corner."

The 2013-14 edition of the report – now in its 43rd year – comes from a survey of nearly 6,500 employers nationwide, making it the largest in the United States for the college labor market.

The troubled financial services industry will see an estimated 40 percent decline in hiring of all new degree-holders. Gardner said banks are eliminating positions in mortgage units and other departments, which will have ripple effects in areas such as real estate and underwriting.

Government positions also will be in short supply, with an estimated 20 percent decrease in hiring of college graduates. This stems partly from the combative political environment in Washington, which, following the recent government sequestration, has many agencies reticent about hiring, Gardner said.

But most other sectors should see a increase, including manufacturing (up 23 percent), nonprofits (up 11 percent), education (up 9 percent) and retail (up 2 percent).

Business remains the most frequently requested major, particularly accounting and marketing majors. Computer science and programming graduates also are in demand.

Gardner predicts the for will continue to improve. "Several years of potential double-digit expansion may be in our immediate future," he said.

Yet many employers, he added, lament a lack of preparedness among graduates. Securing internships, attending job fairs and making connections with potential employers can be essential to landing a good job.

"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," Gardner said.

Explore further: Entry-Level Workers Head into a Mixed Market

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