Monday, October 18, 2010

Journalism Graduates Face Lowest Employment in 24 Years

Journalism students are facing the lowest level of employment in a 24-year history, according to a recent study by the University of Georgia.

The study surveyed more than 2,700 students who graduated in 2009 with a journalism or communication bachelor degree and found that only 55.5% were able to find full-time employment within a year of graduation. This number is down 4.9 points from 2008, and 14.7 points from 2007.

Graduates with a masters degree were slightly better off, holding an employment rate of 61.9% (3.5 points down from 2008.)

The results were published in the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates by the University of Georgia’s Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research.

In addition to low employment levels, the study revealed a stall in employee salaries and a continuous drop in benefits. The median annual wage currently stands at $30,000, a number that has not budged since 2006. As far as benefits, only 52.9% of graduates reported adequate medical coverage, a 6.3 point drop from 2009. Life insurance benefits also dropped from 49.1% to 41.7%.

Lee Becker, director of the research program at the University of Georgia and co-author of the report, offered a ray of hope for students hoping to obtain a job post-graduation.

In an interview with the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Becker said that “in 2009, there was a clear growth line after October 31, which didn’t happen the year before.”

Other promising trends showed that 2009 graduates who were involved with web writing and design had an increase in employment from 50.6% to 58.2%.

The report concluded that “given that digital activities are certainly a key part of communication work; the suggestion is that the quality of the jobs the 2009 graduates took, on average, was at least slightly higher than had been true for the 2008 graduates.”

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