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Steady hiring of grads

Cami Hammerstrom (Daily Texan via U-WIRE)/AUSTIN, Texas -- Although the national economy is slowing down, particularly in the high-tech sector, May graduates can still find jobs in several economic sectors, a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers says.

According to an update of the Job Outlook 2001 Report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the service and manufacturing industries and government and nonprofit agencies plan to hire 18.8 percent more college graduates than they did last year.

The survey was originally conducted in August 2000, generating 482 companies' hiring projections for graduates of the 2000-2001 academic year. An updated survey, which was conducted in March 2001 because of curiosity about how the economic slowdown would affect the job market for May graduates, received responses from about one-half of the previously surveyed.

Still, Camille Luckenbaugh, employment information manager for National Association of Colleges and Employers and survey conductor, said she feels these statistics are an accurate prediction.

University of Texas-Austin economics professor Daniel Hamermesh said the businesses surveyed may not be indicative of most businesses and their hiring practices.

"They found a large growth, but the numbers aren't that meaningful," Hamermesh said. "The sample is small and suggesting bias, but it still suggests growth and that is the bottom line."

Although the overall percentage of college graduates that companies hope to hire decreased from the August projection of 23.4 percent, 18.8 percent is more than last year's estimates.

What may have changed some companies' minds is the slowing economy, said Matthew Berndt, director of Communication Career Services.

"There has to be some kind of leveling off. We are not in the aggressive growth mode as we were a year ago, but we are still aggressive," Berndt said citing some layoffs in technology industries in Austin.

The slowing economy doesn't affect everybody though, said Luckenbaugh, adding that data provided no clear patterns and that all industries were consistent across the board in whether they were reducing, raising or keeping the same as their job predictions.

Of surveyed companies, 45.8 percent said they were lowering their projections, 47.7 percent said they would stick with the figure they gave in August and 6.5 percent expected an increase in the number of recent college graduates they plan to hire.

The only hint of a pattern in the projections comes from geography. The Northeast, South and Midwest are the most consistent in their future job projections, while the West is not so stable.

"I think it depends on what the dominant industries are in the area and what industries are growing," Berndt said. "The 'Sunbelt' [Southwest] has sort of been the bed of optimism and growth over the past few years."

Students are looking for the opportunity to enjoy themselves at work and be compensated for it, Berndt said. A survey of May 2000 graduate students in the College of Communications states that 91 percent are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their new job, Berndt said.

(c) 2001 Daily Texan via U-WIRE

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