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Class of 2005 Faces Improved Job Market

May 5, 2005 — Good news for the class of 2005 who will graduate from the University of Utah on Friday. If employers do what they say, they will hire more new college graduates than they hired in 2004, and they will pay them higher salaries than were offered to last year’s graduating class.

According to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) on the spring 2005 job and salary outlook, the improved job market is due to growth in business, an increase in hiring needs of employers and the continual improvement of the economy. “Increased sales, new contracts, lower interest rates, increased government spending, and increases in the market for new construction feed the positive outlook. In addition, employers said employee turnover, the aging (and retiring) work force, and mergers and acquisitions of companies are also positive factors in the job market,” the NACE study explains.

Stan Inman, director of Career Services at the University of Utah, notes that the number of recruiters on the University of Utah campus was up this year. “Employers realize the value of a college education. They want to hire a degreed individual. Today that’s the starting point-even for sales and retail management positions.

“Education is still the best investment you can make,” Inman says. “For each year of post-high school education, students can expect a 15 to 20 percent increase in compensation, which calculated over a lifetime is extremely significant. And, in fact, the 15 highest paying occupations in Utah all require a degree.” These are (in descending order): pharmacists, general operations managers, educational administrators, lawyers, financial managers, aerospace engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, sales engineers, financial analysts, health services managers, computer system administrators, chemists, database administrators and environmental scientists.

According to 2003 statistics from the Utah Department of Workforce services, average hourly wages in Utah increase with education levels. On average, workers in jobs that require virtually no training earn $9.80 an hour; someone with an associate degree will earn an hourly wage of $19.30; and an individual with a bachelor’s or higher degree will earn $28.70 an hour.

When it comes to finding a job Inman reports that about 35 percent of graduating U students have job offers at the time of graduation. Another 30 percent will continue their education, and the remaining 35 percent are available for employment or will work in an existing job while seeking their first professional position following graduation. About 75 percent of the U’s graduates will stay in Utah to work.

How can graduates compete in the job market? “Graduates who have had real-world experience through internships related to the employment they seek have an edge. Researching the positions and companies to which they apply is also critical for graduates. They should know something about the company’s products/services, corporate philosophy and culture. This makes the difference. Employers say this is a sure sign that graduates have taken the initiative to explore the company where they want to work. Career Services has company profiles and Web resources which can help new graduates become familiar with almost any company,” Inman explains.

James A. Wood, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University’s David Eccles School of Business, reports that Utah’s unemployment rate in March was 4.8 percent, compared to an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent in March 2004. The current unemployment rate for the nation is 5.2 percent.

“Job growth is very strong in Utah. Nearly 40,000 new jobs have been created in the past year,” Wood reports. “The state ranks second among all states in rate of new job growth. All sectors of Utah are expanding. Construction, professional and business services and health care are the top performing sectors.”

A few graduates will see small declines in starting salaries compared with last year. Computer engineers’ salaries will be down two percent. Significant increases in starting salaries will be seen in aerospace and aeronautical engineering (9 percent); marketing (6 percent); economics and finance (5.1 percent); liberal arts (4.2 percent); and civil, mechanical and chemical engineering (4 percent).

Inman reports that students rate medical insurance, annual salary increases, 401(k) plans, dental insurance and life insurance as the most important benefits attached to a job.

The U’s Career Services Library, which contains information on a wide variety of topics, including career/major research, job search strategies and employment trends, is open to students, faculty and staff as well as the general public. U graduates may use these resources indefinitely, although after two years they are charged a nominal fee for any alumni career counseling. For more information on career trends and opportunities for college graduates, visit the University of Utah’s Career Library, 350 Student Services Building, open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., call 801-581-6186 or go to