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What does the job market look like for the class of 2024?

Updated May 15, 2024 - 2:09 pm

With graduation season in full swing, economists and hiring experts say graduates are entering into a positive but slower job market compared to recent years. The overall economy and job market are stable but has lost some momentum since the U.S. reopened after the pandemic, they say.

“For anyone going into the job market now, whether it be a recent graduate or someone who has not been in the job market for a while and is reentering, it’s a good time, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect,” said Andrew Woods, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV.

Woods said the current job market is well suited for entry-level jobs both for people with college and technical degrees as well as high school graduates, but it’s a tougher situation for those looking to get into high-wage and premium benefit positions.

“Getting a job is not so much of a question,” Woods said. “Certainly for any college grads, it’s probably more of a question of, what is the job, what’s the pay and what’s the career opportunities?”

Nevada’s unemployment rate is currently 5.1 percent, the third highest in the nation behind Washington D.C. and California, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But even with higher unemployment, graduates should be able to find a job, said David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. The current unemployment rate is a good “natural balance” for the state since it has remained steady for the past year and the economy has still grown, he said.

“Very low unemployment is hard for the economy, just like very high unemployment, because low unemployment means you can’t find workers and wages are going up and putting pressure on inflation,” Schmidt said. “Very high unemployment means you have a lot of people that are out of work looking for jobs and, and not able to be productive and earning an income.”

How are companies approaching the job market?

Most companies aren’t looking to cut back on hiring this graduation season, a recent survey said.

About 83 percent of employers anticipate they won’t cut back on hiring for the class of 2024, according to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Of that 83 percent, about 25 percent of companies are hiring to increase their workforce while 58 percent are looking to hire to maintain their workforce levels.

Nevada industries with good job growth are entertainment, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, health care and financial services, Schmidt said.

“Every sector pretty much has been growing and above where it was before the pandemic,” he said.

The biggest industry for job growth is shipping and logistics, Schmidt said. The workforce in this industry has risen by 38 percent since the pandemic.

Basically 1 out of every 4 jobs in logistics now didn’t exist in February 2021, he said.

“We expect to see the largest number of jobs being added are stockers and order filers, and so it ties into that growth that we have seen and continue to expect to see in the logistics industry,” Schmidt said.

A major pillar of the job market is MGM Resorts International as the company is the largest employer in the state with roughly 50,000 workers. Because of its size and scale, the company invests heavily in recruiting and is “always hiring” for its operations , said Amy Lee, MGM Resorts’ director of workforce development.

Lee said the company has several partnerships with Clark County schools and higher education institutions to make sure they have access to new talent looking for jobs across the many sectors of MGM Resorts, ranging from hospitality to finance and tech.

“We want to be top of mind for when students are looking for their next step,” she said.

These types of partnerships between schools and companies like MGM Resorts are common in the state as they help connect younger people without degrees with the wide range of career opportunities available to them, said Cindy Kendall, a manager for EmployNV, a state agency that helps connect job seekers and employers.

“Once you’re in college, you kind of, you’re seeing more of the world, but in high school, you’re in that microcosm,” she said. “So we are out there trying to say ‘Look … you don’t have to work at Wendy’s.’”

‘Rightsizing the workforce’

Kendall said much of EmployNV’s efforts around colleges and high schools ramp up in March and April to ensure graduates find work quickly.

The months before graduation are also when companies look to hire either short-term or temporary employees both to get through the summer season and to take advantage of the large pool of graduating students, said Sabina Bhatia, CEO of Rose International, which helps large companies fill its open positions.

Even though graduation season is good for hiring, Bhatia said the number of job postings has slowed and Rose International’s available jobs in Nevada has decreased by 30 percent since last year as companies aren’t looking to hire as much as they once did.

“During the first couple years of the pandemic, we saw some massive and rapid growth, and now we’re sort of seeing that growth decelerate,” she said.

Bhatia called the slowdown Rose International has seen as companies “rightsizing” their workforce to deal with inflation and high interest rates that are expected to stay in the economy for the foreseeable future.

Woods expects the job market to continue to be stable and even shrink slightly throughout the rest of the year to respond to economic conditions but said that isn’t a bad thing for the overall economy.

“We want to be seen a bit of a slowing in the job market because we want the economy and inflation to cool down,” he said.

Advice to graduates

For any graduate looking to enter the job market now, Woods recommends looking at positions in companies that offer room for development and promotion.

“It’s better to kind of get in, than worry about is this the perfect job for me right now,” Woods said. “Because those expectations will change depending on where you are in your career. … It’s better to gain experience right now, especially in this job market.”

Bhatia said the best advice she had for any job seeker is to work on interpersonal and communication skills since companies are prioritizing that more than they have in the past and to network to find connections in the hiring process.

“From the job seekers’ perspective, they may be a little bit more nervous compared to, say, 2019, when the economy was in a slightly different place than it is now,” she said. “I would suggest to those job seekers as graduating students to just network, network, network, make sure if they don’t have a LinkedIn to create one and set it to open to new work.”

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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