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How COVID-19 affects the entry-level job market for college graduates

by Brooke Robinson

Approximately six months ago, the United States economy was enjoying both stock market highs and unemployment lows. Many noted this point in history as being one of the best times to be entering the job market as a college graduate. Some firms were seeing record levels of revenue, global markets were expanding, and organizations were hiring rapidly. 

Currently, circumstances seem to be much different. With expected employment reductions of 47 million, the U.S. is on track to experience an unemployment rate in excess of 32% this year. 

“These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years,” said Miguel Faria-e-Castro, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, as quoted in NBC News

Amid all the societal chaos that graduating students are facing, some students are scrambling to readjust their positions in order to best gauge themselves for what’s ahead.  

Historical markers are being used to measure the extent of this imminent recession. Following the recession of 2008, the majority of unemployment was seen by the 16-24 age group, weakening the likelihood of employment for students seeking entry-level jobs. 

“It’s a scary reality that the job market we all expected to be entering is no longer the case. If you had asked any [students] six months ago, I doubt anyone would have predicted such a shift in economic stability” said Nicholas Olex, University of Tampa graduating senior and finance major. “It’s terrible, but it is the reality now, and the only thing that we can do is adapt and move forward accordingly.”

UT staff continues to anticipate the scarcity of available jobs for graduates and has made changes to multiple policies to better-prepare students. This week, graduate admissions counselor, Nancy Phillips released a statement to graduating seniors explaining their choice to waive the GMAT exam. In years past, this exam was used by UT to consider eligible students for graduate school. In waiving the exam, UT hopes to offer an additional option for students looking to strengthen their marketability in the job market. 

“…many of you are graduating in May but the job market has become very unpredictable. If you want to consider grad school at UT, the GMAT requirement has been temporarily waived. You can apply without taking the GMAT,” Phillips’ email mentioned. 

As the COVID pandemic continues to unfold, the path of recovery remains uncertain. Graduate students should anticipate the extent of the virus’ effects on society and adapt accordingly. 

Brooke Robinson can be reached at brooke.robinson@spartans.ut.edu

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