As Florida’s economy slowly recuperates from the national recession, recent graduates and current seniors face the reality of an unfavorable job market.
According to the Florida Research and Economic Database (FRED), the unemployment rate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area, as of November 2010, was 12.6 percent, making the area home to the fourth-worst job market – behind Riverside, Calif.; Memphis and Detroit, according to online job-searching site CarreerCast.com.
This means that students looking to enter the job market may also have to compete with the 165,199 unemployed residents FRED reported in the area. In addition to a slump in job openings, a study published by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) found that salaries at the bachelor’s level have dropped over the past two years from $46,500 in 2008-09 to $36,866 currently – a decline of almost $10,000.
USF Career Center Director Drema Howard said the Tampa Bay job market is an “employer’s market,” meaning it hosts a high number of professionals who are seeking a scarce number of job opportunities.
Howard said the economic recession has forced many of the “baby boomer” generation, those born between 1946 and 1964, to stay active in the workplace past the average retirement age. These seasoned professionals, who not only stay in their job longer, but also compete for entry-level positions with new college graduates, add additional pressure to the already depressed job market, she said.
This trend is projected to last for at least five to six years, or until the majority of the baby boomers retire and companies regain enough confidence in the economy to hire large numbers of employees, Howard said.
Yet, economics professor Michael Loewy said entry-level job openings are a function of the “overall labor market.”
“The fact that people remain on the job longer does not necessarily imply that openings at the bottom will come more slowly,” Loewy said.
He said the recession caused businesses to shred inefficiencies, which may affect the time period for full recovery in the labor market.
“It is going to take a long time for employment to come back to a level that was prior to contraction,” Loewy said.
Despite this employer-driven job market, many businesses are ever present on campus to recruit potential employees. To help students market themselves more effectively, USF offers career counseling, resume critiques, career fairs, internship opportunities and on-campus interviews through the Career Center.
Rickin Patel, a senior majoring in economics and international studies, said the Career Center helped him find employment opportunities that fit his interests.
“They showed me this unique opportunity with (the) U.S. Navy to get an internship that pays you, trains you, and offers you full-time employment after the training period,” he said. “Many people are taking advantage of USF Career Center. Many more should, because it’s part of the University. We’re paying for it.”
The center will be hosting a Career Networking Fair on Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for students of all majors in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. A second fair will be held on Feb. 3 for accounting, finance, engineering and computer science majors at the same time and location.
At the fair, students will have the opportunity to meet with recruiters from Allstate, Geico, Goldman Sachs, Target, Verizon, Walgreens and other corporations.
Howard said “having a polished resume, the ability to identify and articulate skills and show how their education has prepared students to enter a dynamic workforce are critical” when interviewing for a job.
In addition to the career fairs, students also have the opportunity to meet representatives from hiring companies through on-campus interview sessions. Students are encouraged to open a Career Connections account at career.usf.edu, where they can post resumes, search job and internship listings and schedule on-campus interviews, Howard said.
“Even in the recession, even in the down economy, there are jobs,” Howard said. “There are always jobs, because people will retire, get promoted and ventures (will) get started. There is always going to be a need to hire, to fill a critical position. The Career Center is here to help.”