Starting Salaries Of New College Graduates Drop

Published July 13, 2010

NEW GRADS PAID LESS: Recent college graduates lucky enough to nab jobs are earning even less than their counterparts did a year ago, according to a recent survey.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers said in its quarterly report on salaries that 2010 graduates' average starting salary was $48,661, down 1.3 percent from the initial salaries of 2009 graduates.

People majoring in general studies saw some of the biggest drops in compensation, said Mimi Collins, communications director for NACE. The average offer for them tumbled 17.7 percent to $37,356.

A few industries bucked the trend, however, raising compensation for new hires. Offers for economics majors rose 2.1 percent to $50,885, while those studying finance got a 0.8 percent bump to $50,356.

In the technology field, salaries dropped slightly for computer science majors and those studying engineering. Information sciences grads' salaries increased 5.7 percent, however, to $55,084.

The biggest increase was in hospitality services management, where the average offer rose 10.6 percent to $44,397, said Collins.

NACE received information from the career services offices of 115 colleges nationwide in the nine months through June.

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A JOBLESS SENTENCE: Think your job hunt is long? For those who have been to prison, it is probably even longer.

In one recently published study, an economic professor said it took more than twice as long for people who had been in jail to find employment than those who had never been to prison.

Criminals also earn about 20 to 30 percent less than the unconvicted, and were about twice as likely to lose a job as those who had not been to jail.

"The job market for those previously incarcerated is significantly different, and tougher, than for those not incarcerated," said College of the Holy Cross professor Bryan Engelhardt in a report from the Journal of Labor Economics' July edition.

Engelhardt also found that those who found work faster were less likely to go back to jail.

He said a job placement program that could place those released from jail in a job in half the time — three months rather than six months, for example — could reduce recidivism by more than 5 percent.

Recidivism, or an alleged relapse into crime, is common. The Department of Justice has said that about half of adult released inmates are convicted again within three years.

Engelhardt analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a government survey of 24- to 32-year-olds from 1989 to 1993. During that period, there was a recession from July 1990 to March 1991.

More recently, other studies have shown that finding a job is hard for those fresh out of jail. A study by the Urban Institute think tank tracking former male prisoners from 2002 to 2005 found that only 45 percent of those who were eight months out of prison were employed.

That study also found that holding a job made reincarceration less likely in the first year out of prison, said Nancy La Vigne, an expert with the institute. The higher the person's wages on the job, the less likely he was to commit another crime, the report said.

While data from the downturn and current period isn't yet available, it is likely that with more competition for jobs, it is even harder now for former prisoners to find employment, La Vigne said.

Written by TALI ARBEL,AP Business Writer

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