Job Pool For 2010 Grads Crowded With 2009 Grads

Guests

Ed Koc, director of strategic and foundation research, National Association of Colleges and Employers
Dan Black, director of campus recruiting, Ernst & Young
Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity and Economy program, Economic Policy Institute

When much of the class of 2010 entered college, the economy was booming. But hopes for an easy job search have fizzled as graduates enter the weakest job market in decades. They're competing with last year's graduates still on the hunt, and with more experienced workers displaced in the recession.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

Every weekend this time of year, dozens of colleges and universities hold commencement ceremonies and send the class of 2010 out to start their careers.

The job market that seemed so bright when they freshmen looks distinctly gloomier now, not as bad as last year, maybe, but then again, the competition includes a lot of last year's grads, not to mention experienced workers laid off during the recession. As always, the job search will be tougher in some places, in some fields and tougher for African-Americans and Latinos.

If you graduate from college this year or did recently, call and tell us your story. Our phone number, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. Thats at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, the mothership Rene Balcer joins us as the final new episode of "Law & Order" airs tonight. But first, grads and jobs.

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE, releases a report on job prospects for new college grads. Ed Koc is NACE's director of strategic and foundation research and joins us from a studio in Philadelphia. Nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION today.

Mr. ED KOC (Director of Strategic and Foundation Research, National Association of Colleges and Employers): Good afternoon, Neal.

CONAN: And before we get into doom and gloom, perhaps we should point out when you look at the unemployment rates among young people overall, new college grads are doing considerably better.

Mr. KOC: Yeah, they're if you look at the 20-24 age group, new college grads are about seven and a half percent unemployment right now, which doesn't sound great. It's actually one of the highest ever recorded, but in comparison, those without college degrees, just a high school education, they're looking at 21 percent unemployment.

CONAN: So that's very significant.

Mr. KOC: That's very significant.

CONAN: And as I understand, things are looking up for the graduating class this year, at least as compared to last year.

Mr. KOC: Yeah, it's better this year but only lately so and only slightly so. Last year, the floor dropped out of the college hiring market. The anticipated hiring was down 22 percent. This year, it's above that. It's a five percent increase over that dismal year last year, but that isn't saying a whole lot.

And the prospects we've been tracking the prospects really since September and on a month-to-month basis, and it's only recently started to pick up. So the prospects for this class are a little weak. Next year's class might be better.

CONAN: And it seems like ancient history now, the days when college recruiters would try to top each other with bonuses for bright young graduates.

Mr. KOC: It's not that long ago. 2007 was a very strong year, maybe close to the peak of the market. So it's not too far back that college students could actually kind of command what they wanted out of the job market.

CONAN: And is there any field, is there any part of the country where that remains true?

Mr. KOC: Not really. We have better fields, you know, majors that are somewhat more in demand, such as accounting and computer science, but compared with what they were last not last year, but two years ago and back in 2007, they're not as strong as what they were even then.

CONAN: We want to hear from recent graduates, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Sara's(ph) on the line from Tallahassee, a college town, I note.

SARA (Caller): Hi, Neal. I'm a huge fan of your show.

CONAN: Thank you.

SARA: No problem. I just wanted to say I graduate in 2011. The atmosphere in all the college students I know is absolute gloom. Their bachelor's degree doesn't really mean as much as it used to. Everyone kind of feels that it's been watered down. Grad school is the only option.

My sister just graduated and couldn't find a job, so she went to South Korea to teach. And even people graduating law school I know are working at restaurants as hostesses and servers.

CONAN: And what's your major, Sara?

SARA: Political science, international affairs.

CONAN: And have you been thinking about well, how does the market look there in Tallahassee?

SARA: Well, there's small government jobs I could do, like municipal work, stuff like that. But really, really, really, the only option is grad school and maybe eventually get my Ph.D. Your bachelor's degree is the equivalent of a high school degree now.

CONAN: Ed Koc, is Sara thinking correctly?

Mr. KOC: Not quite, not quite. The bachelor's degree, I mean, it's first of all, for a political science major, it's one of the weaker fields this year. So I understand the pain there.

However, liberal arts degrees traditionally don't do that well right out of college but some long-term longitudinal studies have shown that if you look out over 10 years, you're actually catching up to those accounting and business administration and even the computer science majors with the kind of wages that you collect. And that's still more robust than what you would get with a high school degree, no comparison.

CONAN: Sure, but is she right thinking that if she doesn't have any immediately great prospects, maybe grad school's a good idea?

Mr. KOC: Well, grad school is an option that a lot of students are taking. When we did the study in 2007, 20 percent, approximately, were going on to grad school. This year, we're over 27 percent, nearly 28 percent that are intending to go to grad school or professional school. And that's a sizable increase, and that's considered fairly traditional when the economy is rough.

CONAN: Sara, good luck to you.

SARA: Thank you. Thank you very much. I feel a lot better now.

CONAN: Okay, there you go. Let's bring another voice into the conversation from the other side of the interview table, Dan Black, director of campus recruiting for Ernst & Young, the global professional services and consulting firm. We should also note Dan is on the board of the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Nice to have you with us today. He's with us from our bureau in New York.

Mr. DAN BLACK (Director of Campus Recruiting, Ernst & Young): My pleasure, thanks, Neal.

CONAN: And we're heard some of the data. The outlook for the class of 2010 is looking up a bit from last year, still challenging. Does that reflect your experience?

Mr. BLACK: Absolutely, certainly a little bit better than '09, and to echo what Ed said, of late in the spring, we saw I notice a lot more activity on campus of companies that maybe were a little more gun-shy in the fall but decided, hey, we really need to ramp up for the coming year or the end of this calendar year and beyond.

So there was a lot more activity in February, March, April than is typically seen in a given academic year.

CONAN: And are you hiring?

Mr. BLACK: Oh, we're hiring. This year, across the Americas, which is my responsibility, we'll hire over 5,500 interns and full-time students into our firm.

CONAN: So, young people definitely have a place not only in your firm, but as you look around the industry, in business all together. For one thing, they're relatively inexpensive.

Mr. BLACK: That's true, and I think if you are at the top of your class and doing well in a business discipline, there are still opportunities there. You may have to look a little bit harder and a little bit further, do a little more legwork than in prior years, but certainly there are opportunities to be had.

CONAN: And are you searching people out at the top of their classes and saying, hey, young man, young woman, here's a nice $10,000 bill, we'd like you to come to work for us?

Mr. BLACK: Absolutely. We've been actively on campus. We recruit pretty far in advance. So really, since September of 2009, we've been looking for the May 2010 grads. And then come this upcoming September, Neal, we'll be back on campus looking for the 2011 grads in earnest.

CONAN: In earnest. And so this is an ongoing process for you. This is routinized, this is something you do every year.

Mr. BLACK: Yes. In any given year, we'll hire several thousand graduates, some into our intern program, some into entry-level staff positions. But at Ernst & Young, it's our management takes a very-long-term view with respect to human capital, and we see this year's graduates, and every year's graduates, as the true future leadership of our firm.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in on the conversation. James(ph) is with us from Boone in North Carolina.

JAMES (Caller): Yes, hi, how are you?

CONAN: I'm good, thanks.

JAMES: I just recently graduated in May with a bachelor's of science in community and regional planning and a certificate in geographic information systems from Appalachian State University.

CONAN: And are you having any luck with the job?

JAMES: Well, I have been looking really since February, and it's been difficult. I actually am looking all over the country, trying to get any job in pretty much any field that will take me, from urban planning to -I also have broadcasting experience, and I even have a headhunter in the United Kingdom trying to place me in positions there.

CONAN: I see. Well, stay out of radio.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Excuse me, James, we just don't like competition. Ed Koc, is James' experience, you know, consonant with what you're hearing?

Mr. KOC: Yeah, James' experience certainly isn't unusual, especially in the areas that he's majored in. Right now, urban planning or something like that would be a local government area. And state budgets and local budgets have been really restricted, so government jobs at the state and local level are not plentiful this year.

In addition, if he's looking at broadcasting, journalism, that hasn't been a robust field for several years now.

JAMES: Okay, that's very fascinating. Thank you very much.

CONAN: James, thanks, and good luck to you.

JAMES: Thank you.

CONAN: Also, Ed Koc, as you look around, are some areas better off than others? He's apparently looking as far afield as England, but nevertheless, within this country, obviously some parts of the country are recovering faster than others.

Mr. KOC: We see kind of narrow areas. I mean, the financial services market, for example, isn't very strong nationwide, but it is relatively good in the Northeast this year, for example. The Midwest isn't particularly strong, but motor vehicle industry has actually picked up a lot. And the West, which isn't traditionally strong for us, is really doing fairly well, particularly in the Oregon-Washington area, because of the computer industry.

CONAN: Dan Black, your company is sort of all over the place. Those concerns don't seem to affect you.

Mr. BLACK: No, and we do hire across the country and, in fact, across the world. And it really is a matter of making sure you're researching all your options.

So to James who just called, I think he's doing himself a good service looking in the U.K. but also expanding his search throughout the U.S. A lot of students are very mobile, particularly right after they graduate.

CONAN: And mobility is key, particularly right after you graduate, especially maybe you're not in the car industry and graduating from the University of Michigan. Things are not looking so good in that state.

Mr. BLACK: Yeah, I'd agree. I think now is a time, in a tougher economy like this, and we've been coaching students that maybe your ideal location might be, say, in New York, but if there are more openings in the Des Moines office, you might do well to expand your search and be a little bit more flexible on where you begin to hang your hat once you graduate.

CONAN: And Dan Black, if you were advising somebody whos going to be in the class of 2014, for example, what might you advise them to think about when they apply to college?

Mr. BLACK: Well, a few things. I think the first thing that they should do is check into placement statistics for that college. Most great accredited universities have strong programs and faculty, but you want to make sure at the end of your four or five years, there's going to be a place for you, and that university does its best to get you a job right out of school.

And then secondly, I'd say stay close to career services on campus. Too many students don't avail themselves of the great career counseling and job requisitions posted through a college career center. The earlier you can get in and do that, the better prepared you're going to be to be able to apply and then hopefully secure a job once you graduate.

CONAN: And a lot of students, as you suggest, are sort of in denial. This looks like forever. Unfortunately, it isn't.

Mr. BLACK: That's correct.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: We're going to talk more about that tough job market for new grads in a moment and find out why a slow start out of college can lower your earnings for many, many years. If you graduate from college this year, if you did recently, call and tell us your story, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

We're talking about college graduates and the market for jobs as they get off to start their careers. Here's a couple of emails that we have received.

Owen(ph) in Michigan writes: I'm a recent college graduate and will be joining the military for the next few years. The lack of job prospects for graduates like myself is part of the reason I have made this decision. I was wondering if this is a common decision for graduates like myself.

This is James Hodgins(ph), writing to say: I recently graduated from ASU in Phoenix with a degree in special education. I found the job market to be very competitive in the education field for the Phoenix area, but it is not by any means gloomy. I've had three interviews with principals for positions and a fourth interview this afternoon. I have a good feeling about the job market, compared to a year ago.

Our guests are Ed Koc, director of strategic and foundation research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, with us from Philadelphia. Dan Black, with us from our bureau in New York, is director of campus recruiting at Ernst & Young.

And Ed Koc, I wanted to ask you, first of all, are you seeing a lot of people going to the military as a way to, well, duck out of the job market for a few years?

Mr. KOC: No. One of the questions we ask is, what are your plans after college, for the student survey. And generally, less than one percent of the respondents are preparing to go into the military, and it's true today. It really hasn't changed one iota since during the recession.

CONAN: Dan Black, I wonder, do you actively recruit there at Ernst & Young among returning veterans?

Mr. BLACK: Absolutely, yes. And we actually recently started a program at a college in New York to work with returning veterans and their families in starting up businesses.

One thing I'd also like to add, Neal, is that, you know, whether it's maybe it's not the military, but organizations like Teach for America or Peace Corps, have contacts at both, have seen a fairly dramatic spike in number of applications from folks that can't find a job necessarily in their selected field of study.

CONAN: Those are highly competitive places, though. It turns out you have to it's hard to get into those, too.

Mr. BLACK: Absolutely, very competitive, very selective. It's not a, well, I can't find this, let me do that. But it is another option that is generally broad with respect to majors and backgrounds that they will look into for hiring.

CONAN: Would you or other recruiters that you know say, wait, these guys coming out of the military, or women, and coming out of Teach for America or the Peace Corps, they've got some skills these other kids don't have?

Mr. BLACK: Absolutely. It's the real world experience, working in teams, working in, in many cases, an adverse environment, all skills that we value at Ernst & Young and at many large companies.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next to Andrea(ph), Andrea calling us from St. Paul.

ANDREA (Caller): Hi, yes, thanks for having me.

CONAN: Sure.

ANDREA: Well, I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a natural resources degree. And I was curious to know, where are all these green jobs? Because I cannot find I'm doing internships. I've been doing internships for the last two years, but I really haven't seen any increase in green jobs that everybody's talking about.

CONAN: Green jobs like, well, there's park ranger, but what else are you talking about there?

ANDREA: Yeah, like conservation managers. I don't know. They just say green jobs, and I've been looking for a job for about two years now, and it's really, really frustrating. I mean, I'm doing internships, which is great and really increases my experience, which everybody asks for, but, you know, if you can't get a job, you can't get experience.

But yeah, I mean, do you have any advice for somebody who is seeking out a green job position or where should I look?

CONAN: Ed Koc, any ideas?

Mr. KOC: Well, one of the problems with the green job areas is that there was a lot of speculation that there would be a lot of investment with the rise in oil prices a couple of years ago in green technologies and new industries being created that would be focused on conservation and green jobs. Consequently, a lot of students actually responded to that by going into environmental science and conservation programs in the anticipation that these would be the new fields, and they still may be, but they haven't materialized just yet.

So I don't have much advice for her because those jobs just haven't materialized right now. They're still waiting for some levels of investment, either from government or from the private sector, and more than likely, they're going to have to wait for the oil prices to skyrocket again.

CONAN: Andrea, that's kind of like rooting for really bad news, isn't it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

ANDREA: Maybe I should just go to grad school.

CONAN: There could be that, too. Good luck to you, Andrea.

ANDREA: Thank you.

CONAN: And Dan Black, one question for you before we let you go. There was last year, the market was even gloomier than it is this year. A bunch of 2009 graduates still out there looking for work. How do they stay competitive? What do they do if they can't find a job for a year?

Mr. BLACK: Well, there's lots of options, Neal, luckily. One is that a lot of career services and colleges will still allow access to their young alum to job posting placed by companies on their college campus. So, again, staying active with career services and with your alma mater, very important.

Another thing is to really expand your network. So at many very-high-profile colleges, all you had to do is just drop your resume off on campus and companies would come and flood to you. But now that it's a bit tighter, doing things like doing networking through social networks, pounding the pavement, applying online and then using your connections. Your neighbor work at a company that might be looking for someone with your background. So it's just a matter of a little more legwork than maybe what was required a couple of years ago if you attended a good university.

CONAN: Dan Black, thanks very much for your time today. We appreciate it.

Mr. BLACK: Thank you, Neal.

CONAN: Dan Black, director of campus recruiting for Ernst & Young, with us today from our bureau in New York. But Ed Koc, just to follow up, if somebody does have a hiccup in their career and are not able to get a job for a couple or three years out of college, does that put them at a lifetime disadvantage?

Mr. KOC: Unfortunately, the economic studies do indicate that. When you're out of when you come into the job market during a recession, you're probably losing opportunity costs in being able to gain a significant salary right at the outset.

If you choose to go to graduate school, you're increasing your educational costs, which have to be made up later on by an even higher salary. And that's not available for everyone that gets a masters or a Ph.D. or a law degree, et cetera.

So you're losing opportunities, and you're always going to be somewhat behind those individuals who came out in a strong market. So, you are at a competitive disadvantage.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in. This is Kyle(ph), Kyle with us from Cincinnati.

KYLE (Caller): Yeah, hi. I just wanted to say I'm going to be graduating here in three weeks with a degree in industrial design from the University of Cincinnati.

CONAN: Congratulations, Kyle.

KYLE: Oh, thank you. Our program is nationally ranked every year as one of the top two or three programs, with Carnegie Mellon and Art Center in California. And the nice thing about our program is that we have a year and a half of co-op experience, on-the-job experience before we graduate. But it's not proving to be that valuable, unfortunately, at the moment.

There are 48 kids in my class, and there are six of them that have jobs right now, and we graduate, like I said, in three weeks. This is better than last year. At this point, there were only two people who had jobs. But...

CONAN: Well, three times as much and just goes to prove what statistics can really fail to tell you sometimes, the vast majority of kids still without jobs. And you'd think, Ed Koc, industrial design would be one of those areas that would be pretty well.

Mr. KOC: Actually, it should be doing relatively better than most areas, and with the cooperative education program that he was through, that should give him an advantage in the market, as well. We find that internships and co-ops actually work to significant advantage for job seekers.

CONAN: Well, so hang in there, Kyle. Obviously, everybody's individual experience varies, but statistically, you should do okay.

KYLE: Excellent, thanks. Thanks, guys.

CONAN: All right. Have a great time at graduation.

KYLE: Will do.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we can go next to this is Andrew(ph), Andrew calling us from Buffalo.

ANDREW (Caller): Hi, how are you doing?

CONAN: I'm well, thank you.

ANDREW: Good. I'm actually I'm a secondary ed social studies aspiring teacher. Currently, I'm substitute teaching all around Buffalo.

CONAN: And so you've got at least a part-time job, at least.

ANDREW: Yeah, it's considered part-time. I sure work a lot, though.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ANDREW: I'm actually working with seven different school districts just to make sure I can work and put food on the table and try and get my bills paid. I am in a pretty difficult situation because I went to school at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Moving to New York with a PA certification, you had to spend quite a bit of money to get the New York state certification.

So going in line with what you're talking about, leaving college in a recession era, you know, I almost feel like I was at an immediate disadvantage going from one state to another, not having the right credentials, and that has put me back. But also, the job market is extremely difficult to break into, being as there are so many legacy employees or people that are union or people that are tenured. It's very hard to break in.

CONAN: And again, cities and counties, well, they're not exactly flush with money at this time. Ed Koc, this is, education in general, a lot of places are cutting back.

Mr. KOC: Yeah, right now, education is the worst major for getting offers. We're down there around 22 percent for the kids coming out here in this year's class. It is actually the weakest of all the majors.

The state and local budgets have just been constrained, and the opportunities just aren't there for education majors this year. Long term, the prospects are better, but for this year, they're not good.

CONAN: All those baby boomers will eventually retire, Andrew.

ANDREW: Here's hoping, so - thanks very much.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call. Good luck to you.

ANDREW: Bye.

CONAN: Clearly, it's a challenging job market for any new grad, but African-Americans and Latinos often face an even steeper climb. Algernon Austin is director of the Race, Ethnicity and Economy program at the Economic Policy Institute here in Washington. He's been kind enough to join us here in Studio 3A. Thanks very much for coming in today.

Dr. ALGERNON AUSTIN (Director, Race, Ethnicity and Economy Program, Economic Policy Institute): It's my pleasure.

CONAN: And we've long seen disparities between whites and other ethnic groups in employment. Do they persist specifically for new college grads?

Dr. AUSTIN: Yes, they do. And it appears that they have kind of widened for young college grads over the recession. Looking at the annual average unemployment rates for 2009, the Hispanic and Asian unemployment rates for college grads was 1.7 times the white rate, and the black rate was twice the white rate.

CONAN: Was twice the white rate. If the white rate is about 7.5, that means it was about 15 percent.

Dr. AUSTIN: Yes, yes.

CONAN: I'm just looking at overall unemployment rate. Does that mean that an African-American with a bachelor's degree has about the same chance of getting a job as a white person with, like, a high school degree?

Dr. AUSTIN: Yes, yes. So the annual average for 2009, an African-American with a college - four-year degree or higher had an unemployment rate of 15.8 percent. So it's quite high.

CONAN: Quite high. That's not to say that there's no benefit for African-Americans or Hispanics or for anybody else to go into college. The unemployment - the employment rate for, if you have a college degree, is much better.

Dr. AUSTIN: Yes. Yes. It is much better. So it does apply - when you look within racial groups, the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be unemployed. However, when you look across, you see quite significant disparities.

CONAN: And do you know why?

Dr. AUSTIN: It is a bit of a puzzle that the rates are so high. I mean, one thing is that we are in the great recession.

CONAN: Sure.

Dr. AUSTIN: And it's - there are hardships all around. But as we know historically, things have been worse for people of color, particularly for African-Americans in the American economy. So the usual - you know, I think the usual issues of discrimination, some regional, effectoral(ph) factors may come into play. But, yeah, I don't think we have a full understanding. And, again, it's important to recognize that we see significant disparities for Hispanic workers and for Asian, yeah, recent college graduates, also.

CONAN: Ed Koc, I wonder, does this come up in your statistics at all?

Mr. KOC: Well, I have the same set BLS statistics that I think Algernon's working off of, and I've seen the same trend, that it's particularly - while the minority groups traditionally have higher unemployment rates than whites during - even good times, it widens during the recession. And it's particularly true, interestingly enough, for Asian-Americans, that seem to widen most dramatically.

CONAN: And, again, any reason - anything you can think of as to why?

Mr. KOC: Not really. You know, one always has to go back to the traditional discrimination as part of the reason. A lot of our member employers were very interested in diversity hiring and our very intent on that. But one wonders when you have met the operational level, whether the overall company philosophy really carries down to the operational level and these people are retained.

CONAN: Algernon?

Dr. AUSTIN: And one the thing we know is that in tight labor markets is when we see the most opportunity for people of color. So we see the declining gaps, more sort of beneficial, significant increases in hiring across the educational spectrum when labor markets are tightest. So, you know, right now, the labor market is quite slack.

CONAN: Algernon Austin of the Economic Policy Institute. We're also talking with Ed Koc of the Nation Association of Colleges and Employers. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

Let's see if we can have a caller in. This is Evan, Evan with us from San Antonio.

EVAN (Caller): Hi. Hi. I go to a liberal arts school, Beloit College, in Wisconsin, and I'm a Chinese major in the class of 2013. And I have -I'm wondering about at, like, how competitive a Chinese major just with a burgeoning Chinese economy and, you know, the social and political climate there, like, what implications that has for the future the employment. And, I mean, I guess in another subject...

CONAN: Well, why don't we do one subject at a time?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ed Koc?

Mr. KOC: Well, are you willing to travel to China?

EVAN: Yes.

CONAN: He said yes.

Mr. KOC: Well, obviously, the - there are opportunities there for new college graduates, even working for American companies. So there is -there are prospects there, but you're going to have to link your Chinese language skills with another type of skill to be advantageous to the business community in general. So some business background would be very helpful.

CONAN: Interestingly, we got this email from John Woodruff(ph). I just finished my PhD in Spanish, and jobs are scarce. One letter I received stated that there were 160 applicants for the position, and the position was for a specialist rather than a generalist. One can only guess that generalist positions have hundreds more applicants. So, obviously, there may be more opportunities, Evan, for Chinese majors than for Spanish ones.

EVAN: Mm-hmm.

CONAN: And you got another question?

EVAN: Right. The college is currently - it just went - underwent a curricular review, which they have, like, I think, every 10 years or so. And the college is trying to see what sort of programs, whether it's an internship or like a practicum or like a self-designed project, like that's - that's funded by grants from the college that would give them more of an edge in the job pool.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

EVAN: I was wondering what Ed thought about that, and maybe the man from Ernst and Young, as well.

CONAN: Well, man from Ernst and Young has left us. But we'll go ahead with Ed.

Mr. KOC: Well, the internship is going to give you the greatest advantage, because it allows the company to actually watch you in the workplace. A lot of our major employers use internships, as Dan Black said, early on, in terms of their recruitment. They'll look at the class of 2009 for internships or, you know in 2009, they'll look for the class of 2011 internships and watch them on the job and integrate them into their workforce, and then bring them on as full-time employees.

CONAN: And, Algernon Austin, we just have a few seconds left, but if you were giving advice to somebody in the class of 2014, as you look at these numbers, what might that be?

Dr. AUSTIN: Well, as we said before, the more education that you can get, the better. But we really need the federal government to step in and try to create a better labor market for everyone. We need more job creation.

CONAN: Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity and Economy program at the Economic Policy Institute, with us here in Studio 3A. Thank you very much for your time.

Dr. AUSTIN: Thank you.

CONAN: Ed Koc was with us, also. He's director of the strategic and foundation research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Thank you, sir.

Mr. KOC: Thank you, Neal.

CONAN: Coming up, it's the end of the line for "Law & Order..."

(Soundbite of "Law & Order" transition sound)

CONAN: ...after 456 episodes and a record time: 20 years.

Stay with us. It's TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

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