Job Market Improves Slightly For New College Grads

As part of Morning Edition's series on new college graduates entering the job market: Ed Koc, of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, talks to Renee Montagne. He researches what degrees are most likely to help grads land a job, and at what salary.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now, even if your region is not covered by a sheet of oil, its a tough time to find a job. That means it's a tough time for college graduates to start a career. This week weve been talking with college graduates trying to do that, and this morning we'll get a read on their prospects from Edwin Koc. He's research director at the National Association of Colleges and Employers in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and he spoke with Renee Montagne.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Now, the economy, by many accounts, is rebounding somewhat. Are the 2010 graduates going to have any easier a time finding jobs than last year's graduates?

Mr. EDWIN KOC (Director, National Association of Colleges and Employers): Slightly easier time than last year's graduates. Last year's graduates faced a very difficult job market. This year, the prospects have gotten better only at the very end of recruiting season.

MONTAGNE: Our reporters have been talking to college graduates around the country. There's a young man in Montana who studied television production, an accounting major in Ohio. From your research, who has the best chance of getting a job?

Mr. KOC: Well, the accounting major would have the best chance, because the offer rates for accounting majors are higher than for any other of the majors that we took a look at. It's not a great year, even for accountants, but by comparison with everybody else it's better. Besides accounting, the top majors were computer science, engineering, mathematics.

MONTAGNE: So is there research on how long the average job search is taking for this year's college graduates?

Mr. KOC: Well, we ask our students how long that theyve been looking, and the average for those that have found a job, theyve been looking anywhere from six to nine months.

MONTAGNE: You were talking about, last year, that it was very hard to get a job. Are those graduates, who are now a year out of college, are they starting to get jobs?

Mr. KOC: They're still out there. When an employer recruits for college students, they're looking for new college graduates. And when a college graduate has been out there for a year they're classified in a somewhat different way, as an experienced worker. And so, they have more challenges in that regard.

MONTAGNE: You get a little tainted after a while, when youre out there without a job?

MR. KOC: Well, it depends on what youve done during that course of the year. You can't sit there and not do anything. One of the options, if there are no jobs available, is to do volunteer work. You know, last year the Peace Corps and Teach for America were very popular options.

MONTAGNE: I wanted to ask you about the English major that we heard from earlier this week. Now she said that if she couldnt get a job, she would work through a temp agency. Is that a good way to go or not so good a way to go?

Mr. KOC: It's a better way than not doing anything. It does put you in the job market, gives you an experienced profile and actually, if youre working for a temp agency, many times that can really translate into - directly into a job so that is a good way to go.

MONTAGNE: Now, in years past, and actually generally I'm sure there's a lot of mothers and fathers out there who said, you know, go into nursing. Go into teaching. There will always be a job. But I gather those are two fields that are a little bumpy right now.

Mr. KOC: Well, health care not so much. For teachers, education majors this year, this was the weakest year weve seen in a long time. They actually fall at the very bottom of the majors list in terms of getting job offers and I think that has a lot to do with the shortfall in government funds right now.

Most of the liberal arts fields are not doing particularly well. They tend to fall towards the bottom in most years. However, once they get into a career path, some longitudinal studies have shown that these majors do well enough after 10 years that theyve really caught up to a great extent to the more technical degree majors.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. KOC: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: Edwin Koc is research director at the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

INSKEEP: Next week, we continue our series, Setting Out, with a graduate in Miami who is cleaning pools while waiting for a career in air traffic control to take off.

Unidentified Man: This job is not bad for somebody that doesnt have a degree or anything. It's not about a job. It's just not for me.

INSKEEP: We'll be setting out on that story next week.

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