Seniors’ Prospects Bloom in Economic Slowdown
Unemployment in the United States is at a record low, but corporate and dot com layoffs are hurting the job market. The economy is slowing, but recruitment at college campuses is on the rise.
These trends appear to present contradictions, but they actually illustrate the unique situation presented to college students entering the job market at the end of the spring semester.
The economy may be suffering, but the overall prospects of WU graduates are not.
According to Steve Fazzari, professor of economics, while experts are concerned about the future of the economy, unemployment is still at such a low percentage that the job market remains strong. The Department of Labor reported in March 2001 that unemployment was at a mere 4.3 percent.
On top of already low unemployment rates, employers plan to hire 18.8 percent more new college graduates this year than last year, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
One justification for recent college graduates finding jobs in the economic downturn can be explained by middle management firings, said Paul Rothstein, associate professor of economics.
The layoffs I’ve casually observed are more in through the established people in the firms, middle management, even some higher up as well.My only guess is that it’s not having that much of an impact for people searching for entry level positions,” said Rothstein.
Elizabeth George, director of the Career Center, said, “If they’re trying to flatten the hierarchy and reduce the numbers in the management ranks, then those management folks don’t want to come back and start in an entry level position.”
With the availability of entry level positions still high, many seniors have not had difficulties finding positions for after graduation, though, according to Fazzari, hiring bonuses and salaries may not be as high as they would be in a better economy.
The job hunt for those in the Internet industry might prove more precarious than in other industries. Layoffs by dot com companies such as AltaVista and NBCi.com have taken a toll on their workforce, each cutting over one quarter of their workforce.
The Internet bubble is certainly in rougher shape than the rest of the economy because it was so inflated and now it’s come back down to earth,” said Fazzari. “In recent months this area has taken a big hit, maybe even swinging below its long-term trend.”
According to the April 3, 2001 Wall Street Journal, AltaVista fired 200 of its employees in September and is planning on cutting 200 more. Barnes & Noble.com fired 16 percent of its workforce in February, and Pets.com laid off all but 65 of its 320 employees.
“Students don’t have dot coms to fall back on. Last year everybody wanted to go to a dot com so we had to change our strategy,” said Marcy Arrowood of Accenture Consulting (formerly Andersen Consulting). She said that in the past Accenture has competed with Internet companies for employees, but since the dot com bust, the consulting firm has received more applications.
Despite the Internet layoffs, Susan Felps, assistant dean of Engineering Career Services, said that the number of recruiters within the engineering school has decreased only slightly; the number of interviews remains the same. She added that the number of students worried about finding jobs is “no more than usual.”
Career centers on the WU campus-including the Law School Career Center, and the Arts and Sciences Career Center-reported increasing numbers of recruiters for next fall. Though this year’s recruiting season is coming to an end, Smith said that in the fall, the center expects 5 to 10 additional recruiters on campus. The Arts and Sciences Career Center is expecting 10 to 15 new recruiters.
George said that the reason for the increased recruitment is due in part to an additional position created simply to deal with recruitment. The Career Center added Alisa Schneider as Career Center Manager to “actively bring in employers to this career center, to Arts and Sciences,” said George.
“I think there’s always been interest on the employers part, but we’re doing more to.make it attractive to come in,” said George.
In addition to the dot com layoffs and the slowing economy, the Bush administration’s ascent into Washington D.C. has left some liberal minded students uneasy about their prospects of finding public service positions in the nation’s capital.
Fazzari said that those students need not be worried.
“Certainly on the administrative side, one would expect that you would find more Republicans finding jobs.This might not be true in the entry level positions,” said Fazzari.”People with liberal ideas can probably still have the same prospects of finding a job in Washington.”
Smith added that hiring in Washington, D.C. is on a freeze until the incoming administration is settled.
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