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Recession need not sink job hopes

Financial Post

This spring, 1.5 million university graduates will enter the one of the worst job markets in years. But in spite of an economy on the brink of recession it may not necessarily translate into a poor market for these grads. That's not to say it'll be a cinch for every graduate to find a job. While some industries are hot, others have gone cold. So each person’s result will depend on factors such as education and occupational choice.

The U.S. economy is shedding jobs, retail sales are down, and consumer confidence has plummeted -- all signs of a downturn that keeps getting worse. The one advantage new college graduates have is that they cost less. Companies are not cutting back on their new hires because they tend to be less expensive. With that said, the National Association of Colleges and Employers predicts an average starting salary of $49,300 per year, up 4% from a year ago.

There's also the perennial corporate goal of plucking the best employees from each graduating class. That's particularly important now as millions of Baby Boomers rapidly approach retirement. There's a demographic shift going on, and by 2011 there'll be wholesale retirements," said John Challenger, Chief Executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a Chicago outplacement firm. "So you better keep the pipeline filled. Workforce planning specialists feel they can't let a single hiring season go by."

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