Data released by the department this week shows the unemployment rate for 2013 college graduates — anyone age 20 to 29 who earned a four-year or advanced degree — was 10.9 percent. That was down from 13.3 percent in 2012 and was the lowest since 7.7 percent in 2007. The drop indicates a recovery in overall U.S. economic growth.
Soon-to-be Kennesaw State University graduate Brigette Snyder, 23, hopes that spells good news for her.
“My job search been going really well so far,” said the Woodstock High School graduate and soccer enthusiast. “I’m a little different because of my major and area of study.”
Snyder, a double major in international affairs and African diaspora studies, is looking for something that can lead to graduate school opportunities.
“I think it’s important to specialize,” she said. “I’m pursuing jobs that can lead to a master’s degree, a doctorate or even law school, so I’m looking for jobs within the university system.”
Another possibility is the Peace Corps, which has a year-long application process. Snyder hasn’t found anything just yet but things look promising with a few weeks left before graduation.
In general, she has noticed friends getting liberal arts degrees are having to work hard to find a job. Those getting technical degrees, on the other hand, are having no trouble.
“If you’re going to do liberal arts, you have to specialize,” she said. “You can’t just graduate and have things happen.”
Unemployment higher for recent grads than for average worker
Unemployment for recent grads was still higher than the 9.6 percent rate for all Americans aged 20 to 29. The unemployment rate for recent grads is also more than 3 percent higher than it was before the Great Recession.
Over time, however, Americans who have college degrees are still far more likely to find employment and to earn more than those who don’t.
And while opportunities for new college grads remain few, they’re increasing.
Last year’s female graduates fared better than men: 9 percent were unemployed as of October last year, compared with 13.7 percent of men.
Analysts note the economy has been generating jobs in many low-wage fields — such as retail and hotels — that disproportionately employ women.
The Labor Department reports 260,000 college graduates were last year earning at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That’s down from a peak of 327,000 in 2010 but more than double the 127,000 in 2007, the year the recession began.
One lucky liberal arts major at KSU is Alyssa Albert, 22. A public relations major, she plans to graduate in May and already has a job lined up.
“The job search was easier than I expected,” said Albert, a 2010 graduate of Peachtree Ridge High School in Gwinnett County. “I feel like Kennesaw helped us a lot in finding internships and getting connected I the Atlanta area.”
Many of Albert’s friends have found short-term jobs, positions that might last them through the next year, but career-type jobs have been harder to come by.
Several are planning on attending graduate school.
Albert said started attending North River Church of Christ in Marietta when she moved to the area, and used her connections there to land a public relations job at the church.
She said she can’t wait to get started.
“I got an internship there and have been working with campus ministry and doing fundraisers,” she said. “I like public relations because it gives you lots of opportunities to try different tings instead of having to be specific. I also like being able to look at a project from beginning to end.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.