GV students face an uncertain job market after graduation


GVL / Meghan Tripp (Landgren)

Abigail Hasse, Staff Writer

With the current state of national and state economies and job markets, Grand Valley State University seniors are facing uncertainty after graduation as they search for employment.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented effects on the nation’s economy, job market and unemployment rates, economists are split about the financial trends of the nation and what they mean for the near future.

From June 6 to June 9 the Financial Times and the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business conducted a macroeconomics survey showing that nearly 70% of the economists who responded predicted a pending recession before 2024. 

They are anticipating that, rather than laying off staff, employers will choose to withdraw the historically high number of job openings that are available today. This plan would not affect currently employed individuals but would make it more difficult for the unemployed to find a job.

However, the abundancy of current job postings in Michigan and around the country has complicated assessments on whether or how soon the country can expect to enter such a recession and to what extent GVSU graduates entering the workforce will be affected.

On July 28, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell spoke on the subject. 

“I do not think the U.S. is currently in a recession,” Powell said. 

Powell’s statement came on the heels of news that 2.7 million jobs have been added this year and quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) data that had been released that morning.

However, due to COVID-19, and the number of people who were laid off or chose to leave their positions, these numbers are not as clear as in the past. 

As of June 2022, the percent of jobless individuals in Michigan was 3.6%, according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget. That figure is .7% lower than the national rate of 4.3%. 

In areas surrounding GVSU, a similar situation is occurring, with a 3.6% unemployment rate in Ottawa County and 3.5% unemployment in Kent County.

An unemployment rate between three and five percent is widely considered a healthy facet of the economy. 

Given the current local conditions, GVSU student Jory Shepard is optimistic that finding a job within his field after graduation will be feasible. 

“I am planning on staying with the company I’m interning with after graduation,” Shepard said. “Pretty much everywhere you look companies are hiring.”

Data on the success of recent GVSU graduates have recorded relative success, though the emergence of COVID-19 have complicated some graduates’ searches.

In a survey released by GVSU’s Careers Center, results showed an 84 percent “destination rate” among 2020-2021 graduates. This number referred to the percentage of graduates that reported they were employed full or part time, continuing their education, volunteering, enlisted in the military or not seeking anything. The results of the previous report saw a 6% higher rate.

Another figure of importance in the survey was the “student satisfaction,” referring to the number of students that are happy with their employment and feel that it matched their goals. 68% of 2020-2021 graduates were satisfied with their employment. That figure was down compared to the 83% of the prior year. 

“That’s a clear sign that the pandemic has a real impact,” Career Center Director Troy Farley said in the report.

When considering the full scope of the issue, economic data and are only part of what determines the success of graduates.

GVSU marketing major Isiah Edney acknowledged the reality that some students do not always go on to pursue careers in their major. 

“I do think that I will use my degree,” Edney said. “However, I do believe that there are lots of people whose career has nothing to do with their degrees.”

With multiple such factors and conflicting economic indications influencing prospects, expectations for GVSU graduates in the coming months have become precarious. However, the university continues to offer access to those seeking assistance in their plans.

As the future of local and larger economies and job markets remain uncertain, students can visit GVSU’s Career Center for more information on job search and preparation services.