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Slowdown affects outlook

Afsha Bawany (Northwestern News via U-WIRE)/BOSTON -- Liz Green is a Northeastern University graduate student studying school guidance counseling. She is also a co-op coordinator for the engineering department and sees the nervousness students feel when it comes time to get a co-op job.

"The first question I get asked is, what are my chances of getting a job?" said Green. "They ask how the economy is doing."

Green said she has had only a 50 percent job placement this past year.

Recent reports have suggested a dwindling economy has affected chances of acquiring a job in the near future, be it a job after graduation or a co-op job.

Last Thursday, the Motorola company laid off 4,000 more jobs in addition to its previous 22,000. On Tuesday, Kodak announced it was going to cut 3,000 jobs, while Cisco Systems said it was laying off 8,500 employees.

Yet, according to officials at Career Services and the co-op department, there is no need to worry or panic. Jobs are still available.

Carol Lyons, dean of career services, said it is too soon to tell if the job market is looking dry. "There is a slight slowdown, but there isn't anything to panic about," Lyons said.

Lyons believes there are plenty of job postings coming in and companies are coming to Northeastern because of its co-op curriculum. Students receive experience within their college career that many companies look for when hiring.

"In the early '90s the economy slowed down and companies weren't looking to hire, but we still had companies coming to us," said Lyons. "They value the experience an NU student offers them."

Lyons doesn't believe that the economy is on its way to a recession.

Richard Porter, dean of co-op, agrees.

"At this point we still have plenty of jobs and expect that to continue," he said.

The co-op department believes that Northeastern students are at an advantage when it comes to students in other universities.

"The experience students get on co-op is important," said Porter.

Yet, professors in the economics department offer another side to the story.

"It seems difficult for students to find co-op jobs," economics professor Neil Alper said. "Firms are attempting to cut back on co-ops." In Alper's opinion, jobs after graduation will be harder to find and will take longer. "If the economy continues to slow down, unemployment rates will go up and it will be harder to get a job," Alper said.

The chair of the economics department, Professor Steven Morrison, agrees with his colleague. "I think that the indication is that the economy is slowing down. We've had very unusual labor markets."

There is a chance the economic slowdown may help co-op students. "Firms will go to co-op labor instead," Morrsion said. He feels that companies will look to hire co-op students who have more experience than their friends in other universities.

Still, Green is unsure. "A lot of companies are worried. They are downsizing. They would rather spend their money on full-time employees," she said.

(c) 2001 Northwestern News via U-WIRE

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