Job market ‘modestly improved,’ says Career Center
As the economy recovers slowly, University of South Carolina December graduates will find a job market that has modestly improved in the last year.
The university's Career Center reports greater employer activity on campus this fall. Employer participation in job fairs and on-campus recruiting was up 7 percent over fall 2009.
Tom Halasz, the center’s director, said employers have a keener sense of the economic forces on their businesses and staffing needs.
“Last year, recruiters came and took a wait-and-see attitude,” Halasz said. “This year, they came back and were here to hire; they knew the numbers they needed. The increase in hiring, while slight, will translate into greater gains.”
On Thursday (Dec. 9), economists at the Darla Moore School of Business released economic projections for 2011 at the annual Economic Outlook Conference that are consistent with what Halasz is seeing. Moore School economists reported a continued slow recovery and a job growth of 1.2 percent, up from 0.1 percent growth in 2010.
Halasz said hiring is evident in various sectors. The energy industry shows particular promise.
“Graduates can expect to see more hiring in the areas of power generation and transmission, including the nuclear industry,” Halasz said. Duke Energy, Progress Energy, SCANA and SCE&G are among the energy companies hiring USC graduates.
Finding success in the job market begins with a successful job search, which requires preparation and commitment by students, Halasz said.
“Students who are proactive, have the required work experience and who have utilized the resources available to them should have greater success this year than last year entering the job market,” Halasz said. “Those students who didn’t prepare as well or put off job searches may have a more difficult time.”
He emphasizes the value that student internships can play in preparing graduates. The Career Center launched a Community Internship Program last summer that gave students much-needed work experience and provided South Carolina businesses with an eager and talented workforce they could help shape. The program continued this fall.
Halasz encourages graduates continuing their job search to approach small businesses as well as larger, more well-known employers.
“Small businesses are leading the recovery, with three out of every four jobs coming from this area,” Halasz said.
At the Economic Outlook Conference, Dr. Zoltan Acs, chief economist for the U.S. Small Business Administration, said that half of all Americans work for small businesses, which number around 5 million in the United States. Acs said a small business is an operation with 500 or fewer employees.
Halasz says recovery remains a bit slower in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, but positive job growth and announcements that include new Boeing and Amazon operations in South Carolina should give students and employers encouragement.
“There are many reasons to be optimistic,” he said.