ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The college class of 2013 faxes a mixed bag of news on the economic front, and many newly minted graduates are prepared for a challenging search for employment that matches their skills.
"I'll start with the good news. The good news is it's significantly better than it was a couple years ago," Steve Hine, a researcher with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, told KARE.
"While conditions have improved over the last two years they're still not back to where they were they were before the recession."
Hine said the most recent data available tracking job trends for people with new bachelor's degrees, ages 20 to 29, is from 2011. That year 13.5 percent were unemployed in that category.
That is significantly better than 2009 when the same study found 17.6 unemployment in that group. But it's not back to the 2007, pre-Recession rate of 9.0 percent.
"Being young and inexperienced even with a new college education does present its challenges these days, where employers are tending to look for experience as they go about hiring," he said.
Hine noted, however, that people with college degrees across all age groups are still more likely to be employed.
"If you've got a college degree you're in much better position than if you don't," he remarked.
Indeed, the May 2013 employment data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that employment for people with a four-year college degree was 3.8 percent nationally, compared to an overall rate of 7.6 percent.
Hine said that rising debt among new graduates would drive many to take whatever employment they can find, just to pay the bills, rather than holding out for something that better matches their skill set.
"That modern day debt load doesn't give the individual the same opportunities to pursue job search and find that perfect fit or a more ideal fit."
According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, at least 53 percent of employers said they plan to hire recent college graduates in 2013, which is up substantially from 44 percent who said they would in 2010.
Starting annual salaries for college grads, according to the CareerBuilder.com survey, would fall along the these lines:
- Less than $30,000 - 25 percent
- $30,000 - $39,999 - 29 percent
- $40,000 - $49,999 - 20 percent
- $50,000 and more - 25 percent
CarreerBuilder.com is owned by KARE's parent company, Gannett Corporation.
A KARE news crew stopped at the corner of Macalester St. and Grand Ave. in St. Paul, and sampled opinion from students at nearby Macalester College.
"My current job status? I would say unemployed," Vin Malwatte, a 2013 Macalester graduate in environmental studies told KARE.
"I'm looking at some opportunities, hoping to find something in the conservation field."
Malwatte is an international student from Sri Lanka, and said he's hoping to get some kind of work history in the US before deciding whether or not to return to his home country.
Malwatte and fellow 2013 graduate Tommy Symmes were driving golf carts on campus Friday, providing rides to alumni who had returned to Macalester for class reunions.
Symmes, a religion and psychology major, said he's headed to grad school next year. In the meantime, however, he has lined up a paid position in his home state.
"I am teaching in New Hampshire this summer at a summer scholars program in Concord."
They could compare notes with two 2012 grads from California, Emma Kaplan and Molly Sullivan, who were back on campus for a reunion.
Kaplan interned on political campaigns after graduating last year with a degree in political science. She just landed a job as a congressional staffer in Washington D.C., but said the pay will require her to keep sharing expenses with roommates.
"It's a low salary for sure, and not enough to live on especially in a place like Washington DC, where living prices, rent is incredibly high," Kaplan said.
"The job market is crazy right now. There are a lot of young college graduates looking for jobs, really smart kids."
Sullivan is interning at an urban planning and research agency in the San Francisco Bay area, and working a part-time job outside of her chosen field of geography.
"I'm hoping the connections I gain at this internship will help me get into the area of earthquake safety implementation," Sullivan said.
"I just work at a café and it's definitely not enough to live on being on the Bay Area, so I'm living with my parents."
She's found there are plenty of other 2012 college graduates in the same boat, when it comes to their living quarters.
"It's something I had a bit of complex about at first, but I realize it's something a lot of people are doing."
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)