If you think the nation’s unemployment rate is high — hovering at close to 10 percent — consider this: Experts say that in some colleges, close to 50 percent of the graduates of the class of ’09 still don’t have full-time jobs they can call their own.
Clearly, college grads face the toughest job market since the early 1980s. So says John Challenger, chief executive of one of the biggest personnel consulting firms in the country, Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
But there’s bracing news, too. Payrolls, which fell by 467,000 in June, are expected to show a decline of only 320,000 for July. This follows a trend that has been developing for months in the economy: Things are getting worse, but at a slower rate. The numbers, Challenger says, suggest that the recession hit its nadir in last year’s fourth quarter or this year’s first quarter, and the economy is on its way back to a gradual recovery.
Job candidates at least are getting into more interviews than they were just a short while ago. Headhunters, the executive-search crowd, had a positive June and July.
Sectors of the economy that hold out the most promise include energy, not only oil and gas but also batteries and companies that make machinery for utilities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in two sectors — education and health-care services — the number of jobs has increased every month so far this year. Teachers will continue to prosper as more people flock back to the classroom rather than face a still-difficult job market. Nurses and physical therapists, janitors and surgeons will continue to thrive in the newly built hospital systems that serve the aging Baby Boomers.
So, which sectors of the economy seem best poised to lead us out of recession? When slumps hit in the past decade or so, Challenger says, banking, finance and housing were the leaders on the way out.
This time, the leading sectors may be energy, health care and global business. Another growth area for hiring may come from the government’s infrastructure program and stimulus. So there may be more jobs for civil engineers, architects and construction workers, not just in building homes but in retrofitting buildings to become more sustainable.
If you’re an electrical engineer, you stand to get a job just about anywhere. But, alas, manufacturing jobs continue to diminish. And, as Challenger, Gray & Christmas says in a statement, “Unfortunately, the number of unemployed is likely to continue growing albeit more slowly, even after a recovery begins. The reason is that a recovery will entice more job seekers who had given up and officially left the labor pool to resume their searches. For this reason, the unemployment rate is likely to continue growing even as the number of employed Americans increases.”
(c) 2009, MarketWatch.com Inc. Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.