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Slowing economy won't likely slow job hunters

Jan. 17, 2001

Group forecasts rise in hiring grads during new year

By ANDY JACOBS

Reporter

The 1990s introduced the best economic period the United States has ever seen. Recently, however, the stock market has been slipping and President-elect George W. Bush is warning Americans of an economic slump.

As the U.S. economy continues to cool, Baylor students are wondering if they missed out on the best chance to find a good job and pay off those ever-binding college loans.

Not so, said Dr. John Boyd, director of career services at Baylor. In fact, he says 2001 could be the strongest job market in years. The number of companies interviewing on campus is up 39 percent from last year, and student interviews are up 31 percent.

Normally, job availability fluctuates in predictable patterns over the years. However, the last few years represent rapid growth.

'It's an unprecedented time period right now,' said Boyd. Even though the stock market is struggling, Boyd says it simply hasn't affected the job market. 'We just haven't seen it,' he said.

Nationally, the trend also looks good. The National Association of Colleges and Employers projects a 23 percent increase in college hiring, well above last year's 14.5 percent increase.

Because the demand is so strong, Boyd says employers are also willing to look at a wider variety of majors. In fact, 40 percent of employers will look at students in any field of study.

'Liberal arts majors are in higher demand and making more money than in the past,' he said.

Marc McCoy, a Houston senior, said he went to a job fair last year and left with an internship and two invitations for an interview. He said he plans to go this year to help him find a permanent job.

'I think a lot of companies out there are looking for knowledgeable people who are willing to work hard,' McCoy said.

Dr. Tom Kelly, professor of economics at the Hankamer School of Business, says the economy entering a recession is a long shot, but if that happened, it would be a growth recession. The economy would still show growth, just at a slower pace.

He said the technology sector is taking a hit right now, but the industry is still expected to grow significantly over the next decade. He also said most other job fields are expected to show positive growth.

'The market is extremely favorable, and I think it will continue to be so for the next few years,' said Kelly.

Kelly also notes that companies today are looking for knowledge and skills, which explains why collegiate recruiting is soaring. He also said companies are paying higher salaries than a few years ago. 'Going to college is definitely paying off right now,' he said.

Both Kelly and Boyd emphasized that companies today are looking for people with good communication, writing, and problem solving skills. 'Baylor students stack up with this group, and companies know this.' Kelly said.