U.S. college grads shun Wall Street for Washington

Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:28pm EDT
 
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By Wendell Marsh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wall Street may be losing its luster for new U.S. college graduates who are increasingly looking to the government for jobs that enrich their social conscience, if not their wallet.

In the boom years, New York's financial center lured many of the brightest young stars with the promise of high salaries and bonuses. But the financial crisis has tainted the image of big banks, and with fewer financial jobs available, Uncle Sam may be reaping the benefit.

"Some grads might have seen two of their older siblings go through the dot-com crash and the emptiness of that, and now the Wall Street crash, just chasing after the big bucks," said John Challenger, chief executive of job placement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Some of the appeal of Washington simply reflects the grim reality of graduating in the midst of the worst recession in decades. The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 9.4 percent in May, which means new graduates are competing with a large pool of older unemployed workers for a limited supply of jobs.

A report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers projected a 21.6 percent decrease in new hires among college graduates. Almost every sector was hit, with banking taking the biggest blow, dropping 70.9 percent.

"Students don't see the private sector as being as viable this year," said Edwin Koc, director of strategic and foundation research for the Pennsylvania-based NACE.

Of the roughly 1.6 million students who recently graduated from college, only 19.7 percent had secured jobs upon graduation in May, according to NACE's 2009 student survey.

But Labor Department data shows employment in the Washington area has increased since early 2008, even as other regions have lost jobs.   Continued...

 
<p>A demonstrator holds a sign during a rally outside Wall Street in New York in this April 4, 2009 file photo. Wall Street may be losing its luster for new U.S. college graduates who are increasingly looking to the government for jobs that enrich their social conscience, if not their wallet. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/Files</p>