The word "improves" leaves a lot of room for interpretation. For example, if you lost your job, and you've been unemployed for 4 years, and your benefits have run out, and now you live under a bridge in a cardboard box, and you've been begging on the street lately for money for food, but a soup kitchen just opened up a few blocks away, and now you can eat some thin gruel twice a day, the headline might read "Food Outlook Improves For Local Homeless Man".
Such was the case with Scott Mayerowitz's Associated Press (AP) story 2012 college grads enter improving job market, which was reprinted in my local newspaper the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as Jobs Outlook Improves For The Class Of 2012. If you use Google, you will find that this story was re-printed in local newspapers in cities all over the country, just as it was in Pittsburgh. All of these papers belong to chains with national or global corporate owners.
First we get the fluff behind the headline.
NEW YORK (AP) — The class of 2012 is leaving college with something that many graduates since the start of the Great Recession have lacked: jobs.
To the relief of graduating seniors — and their anxious parents — the outlook is brighter than it has been in four years. Campus job fairs were packed this spring and more companies are hiring. Students aren't just finding good opportunities, some are weighing multiple offers.
In some ways, members of the class of 2012 got lucky. They arrived on campus in September 2008, the same month that Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, touching off a financial crisis that exacerbated the recession.
On campus, they were largely insulated from the collapsing U.S. economy. While older brothers and sisters graduated into a dismal job market, they took shelter in chemistry, philosophy and literature classes.
They used their college years to prepare for the brutal realities of the job market that would await them. They began networking for jobs much earlier, as freshmen in some cases. They pursued summer internships not simply as resume boosters, but as gateways to permanent jobs. And they developed more realistic expectations about landing a job in the ideal place and at the ideal salary.
On campuses across the country, spirits are more upbeat this spring, and the employment outlook is especially promising, according to interviews with three dozen seniors and career center directors.
"It's just been such a dramatic change from what we saw in 2008," says Mercy Eyadiel, who oversees career development at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. Back then, openings disappeared overnight and companies were calling recent graduates to rescind offers. "It was a very bad, ugly situation."
Well, it was a very bad ugly situation, but Thank God that's all changed because the especially promising outlook is brighter now for these lucky graduates of the class of 2012. However, this AP story is not a total piece of propaganda and business reporter Scott Mayerowitz is therefore not a complete hack. I've quoted the longish story right up to the moment when the tone changes and Reality rears its ugly head. Shall we continue?
The job market remains tough, even for those graduating from the best universities. Hiring is not back to its pre-recession level and plenty of seniors are leaving campuses without jobs. Yet this year's graduates are less likely to face the disappointment of moving back in with mom and dad, or being forced to work at a coffee shop to pay off loans...
Students' expectations have also changed. That dream job might just be a dream. Seniors are instead focusing on stepping-stone positions that will hopefully lead to better opportunities.
Jonathan Fieweger, a senior at New York University, doesn't have a long-term job offer. But he was able to turn a public relations internship with TV network Showtime into a year-long, post-graduation job.
Jonathan got a 1-year temp job with Showtime. At this point Mayerowitz cites some actual data, which is always a bad idea if you're trying write an "improvement" story. Here are some snippets.
Others are willing to move to less desirable locations and settle for lower salaries.
Pay for new graduates fell 10 percent during the recession, according to the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. Few expect it to climb back soon.
Despite the lower pay, students today have more confidence in the job market. Two years ago, career directors say, seniors were so afraid of the recession that they flocked to graduate schools to wait out the dark times...
Who is hiring?
Colleges say the strongest growth in job offers has come from Fortune 500 companies, investment banks and consulting firms, all of whom make offers in the fall for jobs that don't start until the summer.
Most smaller employers hire much closer to when an employee is needed. That means graduates won't get offers until late spring or summer. But college career directors say that, based on conversations with employers, it will be a strong year.
What about the on-campus job fairs?
At Florida State University in Tallahassee, the number of job listings jumped from 1,379 last spring, to 2,299 this year. That is down from 5,000-plus listed before the recession.
At Arizona State University's Tempe campus, 1,698 companies have attended job fairs or interviewed on campus, up from 1,357 two years ago but below the roughly 2,000 that visited before the recession.
"We're about halfway back," says Matthew Brink, director of career services at the University of Delaware.
Halfway back. OK, what do we know for sure? Pay for new grads fell 10% during the recession, and few expect it to climb back soon. And why do few expect it wages to recover soon? The answer is simple. We are living within the weakest labor market since the Great Depression. The bargaining power of workers is rapidly descending toward levels not seen since the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That's what happens when you effectivly flood the domestic jobs market with cheap labor from all over the Earth. That's the central consequence of globalization. Capitalists love this shit.
Who is doing the hiring? Fortune 500 companies investment banks and consulting firms, who just happen to be the companies set up to thrive in a globalized labor market. And don't look for jobs from small businesses—they can't hire new grads because their sales don't justify it.
And even then, despite the wonderful benefits of globalization, the global economy is floundering.
And what is the implicit assumption in the phrase halfway back? Quite obviously the assumption is that we're going to get all the way back. To what? As it was before the Great Recession? We already know that's not the case, just look at wages—they've fallen 10% for new grads. But of course the situation looking forward is likely much worse than it looks right now.
For example, in yesterday's post Merrily We Roll Along! I highlighted the fact that we would experience an economic disaster in the United States in 2013—another recession comparable to the last one—if Congress actually cuts the Federal budget as they agreed to do and allows scheduled tax increases to occur. But that's just one scenario. We could concoct several plausible scenarios in which things do not go as planned for new college graduates. Maybe they'll have to hide out in graduate school forever and pile up record amounts of student loans.
So this AP story about the improving jobs market for new grads is a house of cards built on a foundation of horseshit. These young people are entering a meat-grinder, a world of hurt. Some will get lucky, but most will not. That's the way it's increasingly been for 30 years, and that's the way it will be this year, next year, and the year after that and the year after that... And when I saw this AP story this morning in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I decided to point that out.