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How Bad Is the Job Market for '08 Grads?

By Joan Mitchell

If you’re an ’08 grad and your only firm plans for life after graduation are moving back home, don’t beat yourself up about it too much—at least you can blame the “economy” when your parents ask you why you don’t have a job yet.

I’m no economic analyst, but it seems that every 5-10 years or so the economy is in shambles for a bit (e.g. 2000) and a graduating class or two is left with a tight job market to navigate. According to this Wall Street Journal article, graduates of ’08 may be remembered as one of those unlucky classes that got the short end of the employment stick. Check the numbers: A whopping 80,000 were lost in March, and unemployment reached its highest level since September 2005 (though it remains at a moderate level). As the New York Times reports, however, the reduction in hours and overtime is what’s really hurting employee wages.

The credit crisis has stagnated hiring in the finance and consulting industries—Bear Stearns had to rescind half of its 100 job offers to graduating seniors, and several people I know who have worked at investment banks for 2-3 years are not being asked back. Many industries have tightened up in response to the gloomy economic outlook, while others are just going through independent problems of their own—for example, publishing has been on a downward slide for years and Hollywood has been damaged by the screenwriter’s strike and threats of a SAG strike.

Not all industries are stagnating on new hires, however. Government hiring remains “robust,” as does hiring in the technology and health sectors. (Checkout Career Builder's list of recession-proof jobs. Meanwhile, the majors that are banking the highest starting salaries are engineering and computer science (revenge of the nerds).

If you still don’t have any summer plans lined up, check out these tips for snagging a last-minute internship. Or apply for the Delaying the Real World Fellowship. Or maybe start thinking about that gap year in New Zealand…no better way to respond to a recession than spending all of your money!

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