Surprise! College seniors are entering a great job market
It is what college students and their parents have waited to hear for many years. The class of 2016 is entering one of the most favorable job markets in recent memory.
"This year's class is going to experience a much better job picture than they would have three or four years ago, or even a couple of years ago," said Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
New data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers estimates that employers plan to hire 11 percent more new graduates than in 2014.
Van Horn credits the positive trend to a continuously growing economy over the last six years, which has dug out from the depths of the recession to create 13 million new jobs.
The unemployment rate has virtually cut in half from 10 to 5 percent, and many of the new jobs created require a four-year degree or better.
One other favorable factor is that more older workers are finding new jobs, which has emptied the backlog of employees battling recent grads for the same jobs.
"That creates more opportunity for recent college graduates to land a good job this May or June," Van Horn said.
Despite the welcome news, Van Horn does caution college students to still prepare thoroughly to enter the job market for the first time.
"Even under the best of circumstances, you'd have to be prepared for that and it's still a competitive labor market, especially for the best jobs," Van Horn said. "Don't be complacent. Even though the job market is better, it's still competitive and so they still have to work hard to get the best jobs."
He said there are also still reasons for some concern because of a few million Americans dealing with long-term unemployment and the fact that many employers are not increasing salaries and wages as quickly as workers would like.
"It's not a perfect economy, but we have basically significantly improved from where we were, practically, a decade ago," Van Horn said.