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College Grads Facing Worst Hiring Climate Since 2002

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on March 04

By Anne VanderMey

You may have thought the job market for new college graduates was bad up until now. But it’s about to get worse. A lot worse. And business graduates…well, you might as well be philosophy majors because you’re in for the worst of it.

Undergraduate hiring is expected to plummet this spring according to the results from a recent survey, dashing some analysts’ hopes that a degree would help graduates weather the economic storm. The study, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), estimates that employers will hire 22% fewer new graduates from this year’s class than they did from last year’s class. The projection, if true, would represent the biggest downturn since 2002, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the dot-com bust sent hiring down 36%.

This year’s dip, though, could prove to be even worse than that year. After the 2002 downturn, hiring leveled off in 2003 and rebounded by 2004—followed by double-digit increases until the spring of 2008. This time around, employers are largely unsure about when or if their hiring will recover. In all, 46% of the employers surveyed by NACE said they were uncertain if hiring would recover by the fall, and 17% said they were certain, but not in a good way: they were going to hire fewer college grads than they did last year.

Marilyn Mackes, NACE’s executive director, said the change in employer sentiment from just a few months ago was dramatic.

Earlier, employers indicated that they expected to keep their new college graduate hiring levels even with last year. Our current survey shows that college hiring is as affected by the economy as other types of hiring…More than two-thirds of employers said the economic situation forced them to reevaluate their college hiring plans, and nearly all of those said they have decreased their planned number of hires.

The finance and business sectors seemed to be particularly hard hit, with the projected hires falling 70.9% in finance fields and 31.3% in business services.

On the bright side says Edwin Koc, director of research for NACE, accounting grads are still in high demand in terms of sheer volume, but there are a lot of accounting graduates and no one’s guaranteed a job.

“High-demand in this economy is kind of an oxymoron,” he said.

Reader Comments

judy strauss

March 4, 2009 02:42 PM

This is something that we also need to consider in our discussion on BB. I will download it and put it under Documents.


March 4, 2009 03:42 PM

graduate programs are great, but there is so much they dont teach you.

I wish i found this site when i was starting out:
Graduate Program

it would have saved me from making so many mistakes.

Hunter Baxley

March 4, 2009 04:33 PM

hahaha we're screwed.


March 4, 2009 05:12 PM

It's about time we have some one (class of people) to do the jobs AMERICANS wont do,the little dems that havent had to pay for anything except worry about their next i-phone or what is mommy going to buy me next-pay all the bills, pick grapes or tomatoes but don't vote soialism again, you got what you ask for-enjoy.


March 4, 2009 05:15 PM

And now the rest of the story- Paul Harvy Has passed and you young non thinkers are screwed.


March 4, 2009 05:19 PM

The rest of the story (Paul Harvey Passed) I turn 60 this year, a country boy will surive, you free unthinking lib-dems are screwed.


March 4, 2009 05:22 PM

It goes without saying ... jobs are tough to find in this atmosphere, period.


March 4, 2009 06:31 PM

This is definitely worrisome. I'm looking to start b school this summer. UCLA or Pepperdine –

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.



Read daily reports and special features from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Lindsey Gerdes and Louis Lavelle about companies, careers, and other topics of interest to young professionals.

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