If Graduates Want a Job, the Midwest is the Place to Look
- Apr. 17, 2012
- 1 Comment
For graduates on the job hunt this year, the Midwest is the place to be.
Employers in the Midwest are anticipating hiring 18.5 percent more 2012 graduates than 2011 graduates – the largest increase of anywhere in the country, according to numbers released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
In addition, Midwestern employers:
- Have the most active college recruitment plans for spring 2012
- Comprise almost half of the nation’s oil and gas extraction companies, which have the brightest outlook for hiring 2012 grads
- Have the most interest in four of the top five majors currently in demand: finance, accounting, computer and information technology, and electrical engineering
- Are most likely to offer their employees with bachelor’s degrees a salary increase
- Are the most likely to offer a signing bonus
“It does seem like things are moving in a positive direction,” said David Gaston, director of the University Career Center at the University of Kansas.
He said employers participating in this year’s university career fair were up nearly 30 percent, and student attendance was up by about 25 percent. Although graduates will still be job hunting in a weak and recovering economy, experts are predicting they are better off than those who graduated just a few years ago.
A report released March 30 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Kansas with a 6.1 percent unemployment rate in February, improving from 6.9 percent unemployment in January 2011.
The Midwest boasted an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent—lower than any other region in the country. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 8.2 percent.
A recent Gallup Poll showed the best job conditions across the country since 2008, and the Midwest was outperforming all other regions. It was tied in first place with the South in hiring and had the fewest job losses.
“Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, Columbus, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Madison have all kept their unemployment rates lower than the national average,” Joel Kotkin, a distinguished fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, wrote in a recent article on growing Midwest economies. He also said these regions have been able to cut jobless rates most over the past three years.
Midwestern hubs such as St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Kansas City all saw significant gains in per capita income over the past decade, each ranking in the top 20 of gains in major metros.
Even the real estate market, which was decimated early in the recession, has recovered strongest in the Midwest—particularly in Kansas. Kansas City, Kan., and Topeka placed number one and two for predicted housing appreciation in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors. Overland Park and Wichita also placed in the top 10.
Employment in Kansas City
The Kansas City metropolitan area has so far been successful in attracting young and educated professionals. Nearly 33 percent of metro residents over 25 have attained at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the Brookings Institution. In a Brookings study of educated cities, Kansas City ranked 27th out of 100.
“It’s such an engineering hub here,” said Dan Pearson, the senior account executive at Aerotek Energy Services, located in Kansas City, Mo.
He believed having a large number of educated engineers were among the assets that have driven Kansas City’s employment gains in the energy industry. Electrical and mechanical engineers are among the top majors in demand, according to the NACE report.
The NACE report also found favorable employment conditions in the Midwest for majors in accounting, computer and information sciences, finance and management information systems.
Other major employers in the Kansas City area include AT&T, Black & Veatch, local school districts and hospitals, General Motors and federal, state and local governments. If hiring continues, demand will increase in other sectors of the economy.
In Kansas, employment had increased or remained relatively steady between February 2011 and 2012 in every major sector except for government jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Education and health services, and trade, transportation and utilities saw minor job losses, losing 200 jobs in each sector. While construction, manufacturing, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and business and professional services each saw employment gains; professional and business services saw the largest gains adding 13,200 jobs over the period.
Overall, Kansas added 18,300 jobs between February 2011 and 2012, while Missouri saw job gains of only one-third as much as its neighbor—about 6,200 jobs through the year. However, Missouri saw far greater job gains in education and health services.
Pearson said the local energy industry was projecting growth over the next year and people seem to be coming from out-of-state to join locals working in the Kansas City area.
“We’ve really seen (employment) pick up in the last year,” he said. “The pendulum is starting to swing back the other way as we’re seeing increasing demand.”