Job market tightens: Why it matters to us

Transylvania students, already beset by parents and peers asking what we plan to do with our liberal arts educations, may be understandably concerned about the job market after graduation.

With unemployment over 9 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office, and with some states such as Oregon and California restricting internships due to concerns over fair-labor practices, the situation is one of great concern for students.

Moreover, starting salaries have declined over the past five years from $30,000 to $27,000, according to the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

Beyond even this, while historically unemployment has been lower among recent college graduates (since 1985 it peaked at 6.9 percent, compared to almost 8 percent for the nation on the whole), it has equalized with the nation on the whole in the present recession at around 9 percent.

As such, Transy students should have a vested interest in the future of job creation and employment policy by the federal government.

Whether and how the government chooses to act with regards to job (re-)training programs, trade adjustment programs, internship regulations, payroll and other tax incentives, foreign trade policy and general economic policy will profoundly affect the future of our graduates.

Our columnists this week offer their divergent views on this issue. John Blankenship, our liberal columnist for the week, argues that “free-trade agreements” will endanger traditionally American jobs. Gray Grisham, our conservative columnist, suggests that the predominant focus should be on private-sector growth.

Whatever the case, there is a silver lining for Transylvania students. Most of the jobs we will be taking remain relatively mobile. Lawyers continue to be in strong demand. Doctors are needed around the world. Academics can work across borders with relative ease.

Much of the rising unemployment in our nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is centered on manufacturing losses. It is perhaps some relief, then, that most of Transylvania’s graduates are more likely to enter the service sector of our economy, where our nation still has a trade surplus.


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