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Economy won’t hurt grads

Job availability for seniors graduating this spring remains promising despite recent worries of a possible recession.

Economics professor John Hodgson said people’s opinions about the economy have a lot to do with job availability.

Though it’s unclear whether the United States is in a recession, a recent poll by Fortune Magazine reported that more than three in four Americans believe the United States is already in a recession or will be during 2008.

People’s expectations tend to have an affect on the economy, Hodgson said.

When people believe they are in a recession, demand decreases, which forces manufacturers to produce less and then forces them to stop hiring and start laying off workers, he said.

“If a recession does occur, many companies will implement hiring freezes which will enable them to retain the people they already have,” he said.

Hodgson said we’re already feeling the effects of an economic slowdown.

“It feels like a recession, but there is no objective data out yet,” he said. “We won’t know what the job outlook of February is until early April.”

But there is good news: Hodgson said Florida doesn’t usually suffer as much as other parts of the country.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida currently has an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, just under the national rate of 4.9 percent.

How much a recession could hurt students depends on what fields they are going into and where they want to work, Hodgson said. Upcoming graduates should give thought to what they want to do and where they want to be, and then research it and see if they’re hiring. If not, students should look into alternatives.

Despite worries, job outlook for college graduates in 2008 is expected to increase 7 percent over last year, according to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

January’s career fair saw a decrease of only 2 percent in the number of employers present, said Drema Howard, director of the Career Center.

There is still hiring taking place; employers are just being more selective when choosing candidates, she said.

“Despite the economy, there are always jobs available,” said Howard. “Students just have to work harder to find them.”

She said students need work experience on their resumes – the more career-related, the better. Seniors should also come to the Career Center and start their search before they graduate.

“If you want to find a job, the important thing is to start early,” Howard said. “Prepare your resume and start networking now.”

Howard advises recent graduates to consider their options when they are unable to find a job in their preferred field.

“College degrees can prepare students for a lot of different career fields,” she said. “As long as a student is articulate and can problem-solve, then their skills should transfer to many different fields.”

Students can always pursue occupations that resemble their original choice in terms of work environment but offer more job availability.

“Many college graduates change to different career fields (after) they earned their degree within two to three years anyway,” she said.

Some students are taking precautionary measures to counter the effects of a recession without letting it take over what they really want to do.

Jessica Woolard, a junior majoring in anthropology, is working two jobs to build her resume and learning two languages.

“I know I might have trouble in the future with the field I have chosen, but I just have to stick with what I love to do,” said Woolard.

Jonathan Fernandes, a senior majoring in education and religious studies, is also taking measures to increase his likelihood of finding a job after graduation.

“I have two majors so that I have a backup and don’t have to worry as much about finding a job,” he said.

The Career Center hasn’t noticed a reduction in hiring yet, Howard said. “But it may be a little early to determine the outlook for new grads.”

She said careers that will still be in top demand even during a recession include those in healthcare, education and accounting.

If a student really invests some time and does a strategic job search, she said, he or she will find a job.

“The biggest thing I can say is to not wait until the last minute to start planning and searching,” she said. “Take advantage of the Career Center – it’s here for you.”