Campus, News

Employers fear economic climate, fail to make hires, new study suggests

The National Association of Colleges and Employers released its Job Outlook Spring Update 2013, which dropped the projected total of the Class of 2013 to be hired to 2.1 percent. GRAPHIC BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
The National Association of Colleges and Employers released its Job Outlook Spring Update 2013, which dropped the projected total of the Class of 2013 to be hired to 2.1 percent. GRAPHIC BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

While a recent survey showed that employers expect to hire only 2.1 percent more college graduates from the class of 2013 than they hired from the class of 2012, Boston University officials said the job market might not be as bleak as it appears.

BU economics professor Randall Ellis said he has seen an upswing in the ability of college graduates to find jobs.

“Demand is still there for college graduates, and I recommend my advisees to not get discouraged,” Ellis said. “I’ve had several students find jobs this year, and I think that people who keep looking will find them.”

The survey, released April 17 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, indicates employers originally overestimated their collective ability to hire class of 2013 graduates.

This past fall, employers said they expected to hire roughly 13 percent more graduates from the class of 2013 than last year when they hired from the class of 2012, according to NACE’s Job Outlook 2013 Spring Update. However, closer to the collective class of 2013 graduation date, employers said they actually expect to hire only 2.1 percent more than last year.

Ellis said while it is becoming increasingly hard for low-skilled workers to find employment, college graduates should still be able to find jobs. He also said because the economy has been slow to grow in recent years, many students have decided to attend graduate school instead of searching for employment, which may make the job market tougher to break into.

“[In] 2008 in particular, lots of people chose, perhaps more people than would normally, to go to graduate school after college to postpone having to get a job,” he said. “… It’s a been a good time for universities, but [the current economic climate] probably increased the number of graduates coming out this year.”

Ellis said the fiscal cliff and Congress’s struggle to create a federal budget may have contributed to employers’ reluctance to make new hires.

“A year ago, people were hoping the economy would start accelerating in its growth,” he said. “… The fiscal cliff, the budget uncertainty and the reluctance of Congress to authorize continuing spending … has discouraged some firms from hiring as many workers.”

Healthcare industry reform is likely to increase the amount of healthcare jobs available to college graduates, he said. There has also been a surge in employment at consulting firms and in the private sector.

NACE Employment Information Manager Andrea Koncz said the fall and spring surveys vary in the number of employers who respond, which may account for the disparity between projections. However, she said the spring survey’s response makes sense given the current economic climate.

“The findings were somewhat in line with what is occurring in the overall job market, so there were no surprises,” Koncz said. “Employers are increasing their number of new college graduate hires, but the numbers aren’t quite as high as their original projections.”

The spring survey was distributed to 1,006 NACE employer members with about 20 percent response, Koncz said. NACE asked employers how many college grads they had hired in the 2011-12 fiscal year and how many they planned to hire for 2012-13.

CAS sophomore Jennifer Thatcher said she is worried about future job possibilities.

“Just seeing friends who’ve graduated struggling is scary, especially if they’re really bright and you thought they would have no trouble getting a job,” Thatcher said. “It’s encouraging that the economy is still rising in terms of hiring.”

College of Engineering fourth-year Ph.D. candidate Sam Polio said he is worried about getting a job after college because he is looking for work in a government-supported industry experiencing funding cuts.

“I plan on going to conferences and trying to network with more people who are potentially looking for a post-doctorate student in the fall or later,” he said. “At least to get my name out there, try to get people more interested in what I do.”

Polio said he does not anticipate the economic climate changing anytime soon, so it is important for current students to adjust.

CAS senior Juan Ramirez said he is not worried about having a job after graduation.

“I’m an international student, so I’m not focused on getting a job,” he said. “If I find a job, it will be great. If not, I will be back home, but it would be great to find a job and stay here and use all that I have learned.”

Margaret Waterman contributed to the reporting of this article.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Sam Polio is a second-year graduate student in the College of Engineering. He is a fourth-year student and expects to receive his doctorate in 2014. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.