Roller Coaster Job Market



 By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

The U.S. unemployment rate has dipped downward in recent weeks and while that may offer some hope for job seekers, a significant number of employers are still revoking job offers to recent graduates.  That’s the latest news from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). 

June’s unemployment number was 11.1%, down from 13.3% in May.  The U.S. Labor Department reported that employers added 4.8 million jobs in June as more businesses around the country re-opened.  The chief economist for the Glassdoor website that posts job listings, Andrew Chamberlain, said the improved unemployment report sends a “powerful signal of how swiftly U.S. job growth can bounce back and how rapidly businesses can reopen once the nation finally brings the coronavirus under control — a reason for optimism in coming months.”

But, a NACE survey of nearly 250 employers from across the nation indicated that 7.8% revoked or planned to revoke full-time job offers to 2020 college graduates.  That number is up from 4.4% on May 1, but down from 9% in mid-June.  As a point of comparison, the revoked offer rate reached a peak of 9.5% during the Great Recession of 2008-09.

While the numbers are slightly better in the last month, experts note the unemployment rate is still at its highest level in decades, and they caution that there could be more turbulence in the job market as the pandemic persists and even potentially worsens. According to Chamberlain, "With surging COVID-19 cases hitting new highs in the past week, rough waters are surely ahead for the economy in the coming months as a second wave could again shutter millions of American small businesses and put a freeze on hiring.” 

NACE further reported that 31% of respondents are delaying the start date for their new full-time hires from the class of 2020, a rate that has remained fairly constant in recent weeks.  In addition, 58% of employers will have their new hires start work remotely, down from 66% on June 1. NACE attributes that drop to more companies re-opening their workplaces in recent weeks.

The director of the UofL University Career Center, Bill Fletcher, said the unemployment rates and NACE data all continue to point toward the need for current students to do everything in their power to optimize their career planning efforts. "It is important to focus on things you can control, such as researching organizations, networking, preparing resumes and cover letters, practice interviewing.  Don't fixate on things out of your control, such as the economy, but use it as a form of motivation.  History has shown that the economy will improve!"