Amid a recession that has been called the worst the nation has seen since the Great Depression, graduating seniors will don their caps and gowns to face one of the most competitive job markets in decades.
“The job search is going to remain difficult for people regardless of education and experience,” said associate professor of economics Martin Shields in an e-mail.
Shields added that he expects to see a slight increase in jobs next year, but that the difficulties people are experiencing searching for work will continue for a long time to come.
According to a study by CSU economics professor Harvey Cutler and a class of 30 senior economics majors, reports of improvements in the state of the national economy do not mean that Colorado job seekers are out of the woods.
“Job prospects for students graduating are not good right now,” Cutler said. By December of 2010, Cutler’s class projected an overall loss of about 1,000 jobs in the state despite significant growth in both Boulder County and the Denver Metro area.
Larimer County took the hardest hits of the regions examined in the projections, seeing an overall loss of almost 5,000 jobs.
When asked why Larimer County was hit harder than other areas in the state, Cutler noted recent computer manufacturing layoffs in the county, as well as a marked reduction in the trend of migration to Fort Collins from other parts of the state and country.
While accolades in some of the nation’s largest magazines and the promise of steady employment had attracted homebuyers to the Fort Collins area for years, high housing costs and slimming work availability have slowed this flow, carving a hole in what was previously a thriving construction industry, Cutler said.
The woes felt by Larimer County and Colorado, he said, are symptomatic of a nationwide shift from a production-based economy to one centered on research and development.
“That’s not going to be a smooth transition,” he said.
Cutler stressed that the numbers are only projections, but added that the results from his class were in line from the results announced by CU economists last week, which projected a slowing rate of job loss in Colorado.
In a job market like this one, where higher-level and even many entry-level jobs are seeing competition between students and experienced workers, students will have to shine if they want to be seriously considered for the jobs they want, Shields said.
“Students entering the job market are going to have to really distinguish themselves,” he said.
Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.