The college commencement speeches are winding down, as are the graduation celebrations. Many newly minted college graduates are looking for or will start their job search soon for the kind of employment that might mark the first step toward creating a career. I'm always impressed at the desire among young graduates to find a career that not only engages them but also makes a difference for the better.
Despite the drumbeat of layoff announcements in industries like high-tech and financial services , the job market for young graduates is healthy. According to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute the unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 24 is 7.5% — the lowest in 70 years — as of March 2023.
Historically, the unemployment rate for young people ages 16–24 is about 2.6 times higher than people ages 25 years and older. The higher unemployment rates reflect a variety of factors, including a lack of work experience and vulnerability to being laid off when business goes south. Organizations now seem eager to land younger talent, especially with the national unemployment rate at 3.4% and Minnesota's unemployment rate of 2.8%. For example, even though it laid off hundreds of employees in its mortgage division in February, JPMorgan Chase told the Wall Street Journal it is hiring more full-time members of the Class of 2023 than it did last year with the Class of 2022.
Information technologies have made it much easier for job applicants to research companies and glean insights. The information is invaluable in a job search and during an interview. Yet young college graduates should be wary of these same technologies when it comes to landing a job online. Once a resume is crafted job seekers can submit hundreds of applications online with almost zero additional costs. Organizations are aware of the risk, and they have responded with a variety of tech-based filtering devices.
Of course, young college graduates should still apply online for something that grabs their attention. But they should focus more of their effort on generating informational interviews, tapping into informal networks, and working with formal mentoring groups. Reaching out to people isn't always easy. But a large body of research suggests a majority of jobs — 70% to 80% — come the old-fashioned way: Connections to friends, family, alumni, mentors, and loose acquaintances . Good luck!
Chris Farrell is a senior economics contributor, Marketplace and Minnesota Public Radio.