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Job outlook improves, yet still rocky for college grads

Date posted:  3/3/14 09:45:00 AM Recent college graduates aren't landing jobs in their fields of study.

Job outlooks showed improvement for new college graduates in 2013, but many recent cap throwers are still settling for jobs outside of their field of study and for less pay than they were expecting, according to the Associated Press.

"It really is getting better," Jean Manning-Clark, director of the career center at the Colorado School of Mines, told the AP.

Manning-Clark claimed more automotive and steel companies are now looking at the school's graduates, joining energy and technology companies that have actively recruited their students for several years.

The Labor Department recently stated the unemployment rate for 2013 college graduates, which is defined as those between the ages of 20 to 29 who earned a four-year or advanced degree, was 10.9 percent. That is the best the rate has been since 2007 when it was 7.7 percent and down from 2012's mark of 13.3 percent. The improvement shows a steady growth and recovery in the nation's economy.

Still, unemployment for recent grads was still higher than the 9.6 percent rate for graduates last October, when the government collected the numbers.

"I'm finding that all these entry-level jobs are requiring experience I don't have or degrees that are just unattainable right out of college," Howard Rudnick, 23, who graduated last year in political science from Florida Atlantic University, told the AP.  "The worst part is that I'm afraid at some point I may have to go back to school to better myself and take on more debt just so I can get a better-paying job," Rudnick said.

The McKinsey & Company consultancy revealed that 41 percent of graduates from top universities and 48 percent of those from other schools could not land jobs in their chosen field after graduation.

The AP stated Americans with college degrees are still much more likely to land a job opportunity than those who don't. Although opportunities for new college graduates remain limited, the outlook is starting to  improve.

Comparing the wages of men vs. women
Female graduates had better luck landing a job than men last year. Nine percent of females were unemployed as of October 2013 compared with 13.7 percent of men. The problem here is that many of the jobs women are landing are in low-wage fields such as retail and hotels, though the health care industry - which provides solid pay - has also been hiring women as it wasn't hit hard by the recession.

"It seems like the jobs that are growing fastest are jobs that are low-wage jobs, service jobs," Anne Johnson, executive director of Generation Progress, a branch of the liberal Center for American Progress that studies youth issues, told the AP.

Philip Gardner, director of Michigan State University's Collegiate Employment Research Institute, pointed out the fact that women also "have skill sets that employers want." He said they have better communications skills, interpersonal skills and are more willing to work in teams."

Problems with the job sector
"Every way you cut it, young college grads are really having trouble - much more trouble than they used to have," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute. "The labor market is not producing decent jobs."

The Labor Department reported that 260,000 college graduates were stuck last year working at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That's more than double the 127,000 workers subjected to such low pay in 2007 when the recession began. However, it is down from the peak of 327,000 in 2010.