Though last spring’s labor market for college graduates was hot, the Class of 2017 will likely find the best job market in 10 years when they graduate this spring. Surveys suggest that employers are ramping up their recruitment efforts for this year. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Dec. 18 that college graduates are entering the strongest job market the country has seen in nearly a decade. New grads also are expected to find more job openings here in Idaho. Placement offices at Idaho universities report more employers are showing interest in their students graduating this spring.
Michigan State University’s Recruiting Trends, released in September, projected hiring should be very strong for the Class of 2017. Company growth and employee turnover are expected to increase hiring of newly minted bachelor’s degree holders by 19 percent, according to 4,350 employers of all sizes across industries and in all states. Sectors experiencing heavy growth include hospitality and food services; arts and entertainment; finance; real estate and leasing; transportation; and retail and wholesale trade.
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New college graduates faced a tough job market during the recession, but since 2010 the market has improved slightly every year. Early indications suggest that 2014 saw more significant improvements in Idaho and the nation.
Based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the unemployment rate for 20- to 29-year-olds with bachelor’s degrees but nothing higher peaked in 2009 at 17.6 percent, nearly double the 9 percent in 2007. The rate declined to 14.9 percent in 2010, dropped to 13.5 percent in 2011 and then fell to 8.8 percent in 2013.
Recent college grads faced a labor market full of degree holders laid off during the severe recession. The number of people turning 18 peaked in 2009, while the portion of young adults in the United States who completed a four-year college degree hit a record high in 2012. A full third of 25-to-29-year-olds now hold degrees. The rate of young adults earning a bachelor’s degree rose from 28 percent in 2006 to 33 percent in 2013. The increase partly reflects a long-term trend. In 1971, only 17 percent of young adults had four-year degrees. That intensified as the recession nixed job opportunities, spurring college enrollment. Idaho also saw record numbers of students graduating from college in recent years.
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A lifetime of big returns.
With the burgeoning costs of education, many students and families are wondering whether this investment will pay off in the long run and just how much of a return they will see.
According the data collected by the Idaho Department of Labor and the National Center for Education Statistics, investing in education still just might be the best deal on the block, and it may be a necessity for Idahoans who want to acquire wealth to improve their quality of life.
While the costs of a college education will often burden both students and their families with hefty student loans, over a lifetime the investment in a college education can return millions of dollars to their bank accounts. Bachelor’s degrees can cost on average $127,000 if you include tuition, living expenses and interest on student loans. A Ph.D will cost around $307,000 on average. Sometimes these heavy price tags cause many to delay their education or simply avoid college altogether.
But the statistics also show that on average, workers with bachelor’s degrees who gain jobs in fields that require bachelor’s degrees will make an additional $1.1 million in their lifetimes for their $127,000 investment. For occupations requiring a Ph.D, workers will earn an additional $2.7 million over a lifetime from their $307,000 investment. In today’s competitive labor market an education is vital when competing for a job, acquiring wealth and improving the economic well-being of Idahoans.
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