Monday, November 4, 2013

Economic Recovery Better for College Grads, by Mikaela Kornowski & Melissa Koch

College graduates are more likely to find work in the aftermath of the 2007 recession, than those graduated years ago, according to Mike Haupert, professor of Economics. The unemployment rate is 4 percent for recent college graduates with the national average stuck at 7 percent and showing no signs of improvement.

4 percent is a good economy, so recession is having no effect on college graduates. Haupert encourages students graduating in December or May to remember that, despite the average, the unemployment rate changes daily.  Somebody who graduates on May 1 and does not find a job until May 8 would be considered unemployed for those seven days.

Having more experience does not trump the new skills of young people, says Haupert. “You have less to worry about than the person who lost their job after 15 years.”  He uses the example of somebody graduated 20 years ago, specializing in programming computer software. Major technology changes have been made in that time, and that person’s knowledge may not be adequate to take on a new position in the same market today.  Job opportunities that older graduates are looking for are more likely to be taken up by recent college graduates with skills more applicable to today’s market.
Recent college graduates are also less likely to have to wait long for positions with their length of unemployment currently at 4 weeks.  The national average length of unemployment is now more than 60 days.  

The unemployment rate for those with a master’s degree is smaller than a bachelor’s degree, and with a MD or PhD, the rate is even smaller still. The new Flex Degree Option at UW system schools awards credit to graduate and undergraduate students based on testing scores. Students use their knowledge gained in the workplace or other experiences to show their mastery of a subject. The program supports that employers looking for degree-holders, relevant to the fast changing market. Those hiring have shifted their search from the most seasoned  to the most up to date.

After the recession, interest rates of student loans increased because the loans were considered to be more risky than in previous years. Pell grants also shrank in size after 2007.