As a parent with a sophomore in college, I know firsthand the pressures facing young students as they look toward the future and attempt to map out their postgraduate lives. This is an uncertain time for many students, and finding a job after finishing school can be a stressful process. I am happy to report there is good news waiting on the other side of graduation for students navigating the job market.
Prospective and recent college graduates are facing the best job market since 2001, as strong growth and falling unemployment make this spring the hottest job market in recent years. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows employers plan to hire 14.5 percent more new college graduates than a year ago. This is great news for America’s 1.4 million expected graduates. Starting salaries also are anticipated to be higher than last year.
Although you may not hear much about this in the news, we have a strong economy. Pro-growth tax policies are working and the labor market continues to expand. Unemployment numbers are down and more Americans are finding their ways into the workforce. Since President George W. Bush’s tax relief was implemented in May 2003, the economy has created nearly 5 million new jobs.
The best job market since 2001? Great -- 'cause 2001 sucked. We looked at the Minnesota job market last month. It wasn't a great picture. Private employment in Minnesota fell in 2001, 2002, and 2003. 2004 included moderately strong job growth. 2005 featured moderately weak job growth.
Smilin' Norm references this survey on salaries for college graduates. Some specialties -- business and engineering -- are doing well, but others -- marketing and computer science -- are doing poorly. Then there's this:
Data on the various liberal arts disciplines are limited at this time of year, but looking at liberal arts as a group shows that these graduates are also doing better this year than they did last year. As a group, the average starting salary to liberal arts graduates stands at $30,958, up 2 percent from last year at this time.
Up is better than down, to be sure, but the average salary in 2004 was $30,153. So salaries are up 2.6% since 2004. And, according to job web, the average salary is still down since 2001. They get their data from NACE, as well:
*Data from Winter, 2004
But that's all history. What's going on right now? Minnesota's unemployment rate shot up from 4.1 to 4.4% in February. Unemployment rate is often misleading. As the economy improves, more people start looking for work. When people return to the workforce, they are counted as unemployed, and the unemployment rate can go up even though the job market is good. That's why it's helpful to look at the raw employment figures. The total number of jobs in Minnesota has fallen for three consecutive months -- from 2.840 million in November to 2.824 million in February. That's a loss of 16,000 jobs. The workforce is essentially unchanged since October, when we had 3.9% unemployment. It's just that we've lost thousands of jobs.
So, someone tell Smilin' Norm that the job market ain't that great, and in the last few months it's been getting worse, not better. Buck up, new college graduates. I know you've got a ton of student debt, but that's nothing compared to your share of the national debt that Smilin' Norm is passing on to you.
The Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 was a largely toothless, ineffective response to systemic corruption problems. The Government Accountability Project did praise the Wyden/Grassley/Inhofe amendment to end the practice of "secret holds" in the Senate. The amendment passed 84-13. I'm happy to report that Coleman voted in favor of the amendment. Thirteen senators -- all Republicans -- voted against the measure. Coleman voted against creating the Office of Public Integrity, which would have been an independent body to investigate ethics violations by members of the Senate.
Coleman: not terrible on the environment
The Republicans for Environmental Protection released its first congressional scorecard this week. The REP only ranks Republicans. You can view the whole scorecard here (PDF). Coleman scored a 47, meaning he voted with the REP position in 7 of 15 votes. Coleman was tied for the 6th best voting record in the Senate -- though the gap between first place (Chafee, 87), fourth place (McCain, 63), and sixth place (Coleman/DeWine, 47) is rather large.
John Kline, yet again, scored a perfect 0 for protecting the environment. Gutknecht scored a 17, Kennedy scored 21, and Ramstad scored 87 (11th best among House Republicans). Note: based on the REP's methodology, it was possible to score below 0 or above 100. Kline didn't come bottom in the Republican caucus, but he was close.
Coleman in the blogosphere
The Voice gives Coleman a 'D-' for his immigration record. David Vitter and Jeff Sessions each get an A+; Chafee, DeWine, Lugar, Specter, and Mikulski all get the dreaded 'F-'.
XOPL doesn't like Norm's position on censure. This quote from Coleman surprised me: "I support the National Security Agency (NSA) Terrorist Surveillance Program." Where have I been? Coleman makes an unequivocal statement in support for the warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens and I fail to notice? Shame on me.