Angello Giuria graduates from the University of South Florida next month with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, and the job market could hardly look worse. Giuria, 26, of Sarasota has put in 25 applications and attended a variety of career fairs, including one this month at USF. That has led to just two interviews. At one, "they said they had 30 people they were going to interview, but they were only going to hire one or two," he said. Giuria is hardly alone, says Drema Howard, director of USF's Career Center. She has helped college students make connections with employers for nearly 30 years, and this is the first time she has seen a downturn in the economy affect new and recent graduates like the Great Recession has.
"They're competing not just with other college students," Howard said. "They're competing with people with years and years of experience who are willing to take entry-level or part-time jobs."
Not every graduate faces the same market, Howard said. Prospects for those in health care are still fairly strong, and accounting is a field with pretty stable demand. For engineers, it depends on the major. With construction lagging, for example, the outlook for civil engineers remains rocky.
And it's not just that competition is fierce. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported this month that starting salaries offered to new graduates with bachelor's degrees are down about 1.7 percent, from $48,515 to $47,673 a year.
There are some glimmers of improvement. The association said employers expect to hire 5.3 percent more new college graduates this year than last year. It is the first positive hiring outlook for grads since October 2008.
Another survey commissioned by CareerBuilder.com found about 44 percent of employers surveyed said they plan to hire recent college graduates this year. That's about the same as last year. One in five of the employers who are planning to hire grads said they will hire more this year than last.
Still, the market remains tough enough to be fodder for pop culture. Consider this recent headline on a fake news story in The Onion: "New College Graduates To Be Cryogenically Frozen Until Job Market Improves."