As the class of 2010 prepares to enter the workforce, the job market in the District and across the nation has begun to show signs of growth.
Most economists are optimistic that the unemployment numbers for the month of April, set for release this month, will show a recovering job market in D.C.
Professor Robert Cumby, a member of the Georgetown department of economics, said that the labor market appeared to be bouncing back.
“The job market, both in Washington [D.C.] and nationwide, is showing real signs of steady improvement. This improvement is consistent with other signs that the recession has ended and the economy is growing again,” Cumby said.
According to professor Stephen Fuller, director of the center for regional analysis at George Mason University, the District will likely see a net gain in jobs from April 2009 to April 2010. The Washington Post reported that the net gain may be as high as 20,000 new jobs.
The District has weathered the recession better than most metropolitan areas, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent in February to 6.7 percent in March. According to Fuller, recent graduates are actually in an even better situation than the unemployment numbers indicate. Fuller said that much of the unemployment in the D.C. area and around the country pertains to sectors that do not affect people with college degrees.
While this may be a promising sign for seniors remaining in the D.C. area after graduation, Cumby said that not all seniors would find such hopeful conditions back home.
“There are lots of local job markets around the country and not all of them improve at the same rate. As graduating seniors disperse around the country, some will find stronger local markets than will others,” Cumby said.
Despite this possible discrepancy based on location, the Career Education Center reported that there is a better recruiting climate for the class of 2010 than there was for the class of 2009.”
According to Mike Schaub, executive director of the Career Education Center, the number of on-campus interviews for full-time jobs is up 12.5 percent from last academic year. The number of on-campus interviews for internships increased 24 percent over the same time period as well. The center’s job database also shows a 22 percent increase in the number of full-time job listings. Fuller said that 80 percent of the job growth in the coming years would be in the private sector. Health services will be the fastest growing industry.
Schaub went on to cite the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which reported that employers plan to hire 5.3 percent more college graduates this year than last year. Nevertheless, Schaub insisted that seniors still need to be flexible in their job hunts and also need to be willing to accept positions with companies that do not necessarily have a big name.
Fuller echoed this sentiment, saying that the ability to adapt is key for college graduates at this time. He said that recent college graduates often have an advantage over unemployed persons who have been in the workforce for many years. According to Fuller, many companies are looking to hire recent graduates because they will work for less pay and have fewer financial obligations than people who have worked for 20 years at a relatively high salary. Additionally, companies see college graduates as eager, willing to take on new ideas and more adept with technology, Fuller said. As recent graduates seek jobs, good writing skills and the ability to communicate with others are essential in marketing themselves well, according to Fuller.
The numbers bode well for recent graduates and Fuller insisted that the job market will only continue to improve.
“It is better to be graduating in 2010 than in 2009, and it will be even better in 2011,” Fuller said.