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Class Of 2002 Faces Tight Job Market:

May 3, 2002 — Despite the fact that U.S. companies added jobs for the first time in nine months, today the U.S. Labor Department reported the nation’s unemployment rate rose to six percent in April-the highest point since August 1994, when unemployment was also at six percent.

While the economy recovers, what lies ahead for University of Utah graduates as they enter the job market?

R. Thayne Robson, business management professor and executive director of the University’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, notes that because of current economic conditions, “The job market in Utah and the nation is going to be a little tight between graduation in May and the end of the year.”

Robson says the most promising industries this year include health care and education, with “modest” growth in financial services and in the service industries generally. “But for the economy as a whole in Utah, we really look for little or no growth this year in employment.”

There is no question that the economic downturn has affected on-campus recruiting and job fairs, says Stan Inman, director of the University’s Career Services. “However, most employers have revised their hiring plans. The hiring frenzy of the last three years has stopped and, due to the economy, there are fewer jobs available. There are good jobs, but they are harder to find,” he says.

Susan B. Larsen, assistant director of the University’s Career Services, says a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reveals that government and nonprofit hiring is the bright spot in the job outlook this year. According to the report, “Of the relatively few (36.7 percent) employers that plan to offer signing bonuses, the federal government is most likely to extend this perk.”

Where are the most jobs? Larsen points to a U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Winter 2001-02 report that charts projected occupational trends from 2000-2010. Employment growth in occupations usually requiring a bachelor’s or higher college degree, plus work experience, revealed 20 positions that are among the fastest growing and highest paying. In descending order, they are: computer software engineers (applications); general and operations managers; computer software engineers (systems software); computer systems analysts; elementary school teachers; network and computer systems administrators; secondary school teachers; accountants and auditors; computer and information systems managers; management analysts; financial managers; sales managers; computer programmers; chief executives; network systems and data communications analysts; special education teachers in preschool, kindergarten and elementary school; preschool teachers; securities, commodities and financial services sales agents; medical and health services managers; child, family and school social workers.

Larsen urges new graduates to remember, “Getting a job is about the hiring of a whole person. Often what makes the difference to prospective employers isn’t a particular degree, but the individual-that is, the whole person and what kind of work that individual is willing to do. ”

A recent survey, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), asked employers to rank the importance of 20 different personal qualities and characteristics in new hires. According to the survey, the top five skills were communication (oral and written), honesty/integrity, teamwork, interpersonal skills and a strong work ethic.
For more information on career trends and opportunities for college graduates, visit the University of Utah’s Career Library, 350 Student Services Building, open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily.