40% of Recent Grads Aren't Using Their Degree

Class of 2024 faces tough job market as AI takes over some entry-level jobs
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2024 6:00 PM CDT
40% of Recent Grads Aren't Using Their Degree
Ruthie Allgood and Beth Picthall wave to their friends at the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts graduation ceremony, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Minneapolis.   (Angelina Katsanis/Star Tribune via AP)

Experts are cautioning recent grads to lower their expectations with limited job prospects in some fields. Employers plan to hire 5.8% fewer new grads in 2024 than they did in 2023, according to a survey of 226 employers. Under 25% of graduating seniors had accepted a full-time role by April of this year, compared to more than a third a year previously, the survey found. Artificial intelligence has taken over some work previously performed by recent grads, the Wall Street Journal reports. But bosses are also looking for skills in areas like AI in addition to years of work experience. For 2024 grads, who began their studies attending Zoom classes amid general pandemic chaos, it feels like yet another challenge.

The Journal tells the story of a 22-year-old computer-engineering major from the Georgia Institute of Technology who accepted an offer of a full-time job only to lose it before he'd even started when the company announced layoffs. The guy went on to apply to three dozen software engineering jobs. He got two interviews, zero offers. He's done eight internships, but some employers want years of job experience. Some just don't have that many spots to fill. One insurance-software company tells the Journal it's hiring five new grads this year, down from 20 last year, and received 2,000 applications for one position.

Data from payroll services provider Gusto shows the share of recent grads hired in a given month is about 6%, or even with this time last year. But that rate, down from 10% in 2021, is expected to fall further, CBS News reports. About 40% of recent grads have managed to find work, but in jobs that don't require a college degree. Some grads "are not afforded the option of being picky," as Gusto principal economist Liz Wilke puts it to CBS. Hiring is cooling and/or layoffs are happening in fields like technology, consulting, and finance. But in the legal, nonprofit, arts and entertainment, health care, and construction industries, job prospects for new grads are more promising, per CBS. Recent grads speak highly of these employers. (More college graduates stories.)

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