Other Campuses: Job market looks positive for 2005 graduates

By Daily Egyptian

(U-WIRE) CARBONDALE, Ill. – The job market is looking bright for students preparing to enter the workforce, as labor economists predict higher salaries and more job opportunities in the upcoming months. According to a new report published by the National Association of College and Employers, the average starting salary offers to recent college graduates are climbing at a steady pace.

Business and engineering majors fared particularly well, with accounting graduates posting a 3.9 percent increase in starting salary since last spring, raising it to $43,809. Economics and finance graduates saw a 5.1 percent increase in starting pay, with a starting offer averaging at $42,802, and computer science graduates now make about $51,292 to start.

Chemical engineering and electrical engineering graduates had some of the highest pay increases, at $54,256 and $52,009, respectively. Andrea Koncz, spokeswoman for the National Association of College and Employers, said the salary increases are a direct reflection of a rebounding economy and, in addition to increased salaries, growing business are also looking for more new hires.

“Things are definitely looking up,” said Cindy Jenkins, assistant director of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Career Services. “The job market has improved significantly since 2001, when 9/11 really caused a lot of damage. Even compared to last semester, students are getting more interviews, and more businesses are coming to campus to recruit.” During the fall 2004 semester, 29 employers came to campus and interviewed 378 students. This semester, 53 employers interviewed 460 students, according to Career Services.

Ben Smith, a senior studying management from Yorkville, said it’s nice to hear the job market is doing well, although he hasn’t actively pursued any job opportunities yet.

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    “There is a saying in the business world that it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Smith said. “My parents were in business, and they have some friends who have been asking about my resume. So, depending on how things work out, it’s nice to know what sort of salary I am looking at.”

    “I went into this major before 2001, and then everything started going down hill, so this is great news.”

    But, there are some factors that may make the job hunt more difficult for future graduates.

    In March, unemployment rates decrease across Illinois, which may make the job market a little tighter in the state. But Mitch Daniels, a labor market economist for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said the recent unemployment decrease was most likely triggered by an early spring and may have no actual bearing on those about to graduate.

    “This was an unseasonable March,” Daniels said. “The unemployment rate usual drops during the spring, but it came early this year, and these are numbers we typically see in April. It could be at the end of April that the seasonal unemployment rates aren’t as low as we think.

    “And I think in this case, it is better to anticipate the national trend for those about to graduate, which is a positive job market.”

    Data on liberal arts graduates is limited at this time, but as a whole, the average starting salary offer is on the rise, up 4.2 percent from last year at $30.337. Information sciences and systems graduates saw a slight decrease in their average starting offer, dropping it to $43,732.

    -Monique Garcia