Careers

Jobs: Good, Bad And Where

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College graduation is about to happen. Every year, a sea of young, hopeful men and women emerge with their diplomas and head out into the real world. The goal for these products of our higher education system is jobs. While some will go on to graduate school or advanced professional education, the target remains the same: Find employment that can support a desired lifestyle.

Some college graduates will make a nice segue from the academic world to the working world because of successful internships that have resulted in full-time employment. Others may have a series of follow-up interviews resulting from on-campus career fairs. However, I’m willing to bet that the majority of this spring’s graduates will be in the prospecting mode, heading out to search for that first step on their life’s-work ladder.


One lesson in life that I’ve learned is to play the percentages. By that, I mean when it’s time to make a decision about anything, do some research to find where the best chances are of finding what you’re looking for. This can save a lot of time, as opposed to randomly looking here and there without a plan.

Since we’re talking today about jobs, I thought I would share with you some tips about where to look and what might be better or worse when it comes to types of work. To do this, I’m going to highlight two sources of information that came my way this week, so the information is very fresh.

First, from a source I’ve used in past articles -- Zippia.com -- I’ll cite some interesting facts from their Job Growth Report for April 2019, which is a detailed breakdown of year-over-year job growth and projections for the future across America. You’ll see information about states with the highest job growth over the last 10 years. Those states’ “percentages” are looking good for job seekers.

The other resource is Wallethub’s 2019’s Best & Worst Entry-Level Jobs. It’s important to know what you may be getting into with that first post-graduation job. Even though your major may have been in a technical field, the liberal arts or some other area of specialization, economic reality may dictate that you take employment unrelated to the knowledge or skills your picked up in college. Thus, knowing what’s good and not so good can be helpful.

Here's Where Job Growth Is Happening

First up, let’s take a look at those states where job growth has been favorable over the past decade. Citing Zippia’s review, we can see that …

there have been a few states that have seen large gains whereas others that have experienced dips. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. civilian noninstitutional population for March 2019 was just above 258 million people. Out of that, around 156 million people were employed.

Compare that to 155 million who were employed in March of 2018, and we see that around 1.56 million jobs have been added in the past year. Hence, the U.S. has seen ~1% job growth between March 2018 and March 2019. In fact, 20 million new jobs have been created, since the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

America has seen a steady growth in terms of job creation, but that is not necessarily the case when we look at state-to-state data. States like Utah, Idaho, and Florida have seen the fastest rate of private sector job growth -- a 10 year job growth rate of over 25%. Wyoming, West Virginia, and Connecticut have the slowest private sector job growth rates -- less than 5% private sector job growth since 2009....

The U.S. economy is strong and showing no signs of slowing down, at least for now. That’s good news for current graduates. However, as noted above, the rate of growth depends on where you’re looking for work.

My advice for new grads seeking employment is simple: Be flexible. Of course, you no doubt have a vision of the “ideal” job floating around in your head, but chances are that the ideal job doesn’t exist, or at least it doesn’t exist in the places you’re looking. That’s why I mentioned playing the percentages during your search.

Being flexible will allow you to broaden the scope of your search, and with the help of data from such reports as Zippia’s, assist you in adding some focus to your plan. Getting down to specifics, here are the states with the highest private sector job growth in the last 10 years:

1. Utah (31.2%)

2. Idaho (26.2%)

3. Florida (26.2%)

4. Texas (24.8%)

5. Nevada (24.3%)

6. Oregon (23.7%)

7. Washington (23.1%)

8. Colorado (22.7%)

9. North Dakota (21.7%)

10. South Carolina (21.7%)

Utah has seen 31.2% private sector job growth in the last 10 years. Compare that to Wyoming, which is the only state in the union to have seen a negative job growth since 2009 at -0.8%.

Those stats show that you can search across the East Coast, Southwest, West Coast and the Rocky Mountain region for strong job-growth states. That rich area would provide a large component of flexibility for you by covering a significant swath of the country. These are good times for job searchers, especially entry-level searchers, so use the Top 10 above to help you lay the foundation of your plan.

Here are highlights from just three of the Top 10 states Zippia profiles:

Texas: Businesses of all types are booming in Texas, but oil and gas exploration are particularly rising, and this is adding to the state's high job growth numbers.

Texas has one of the fastest-growing economies in the U.S., particularly with the rising crude oil prices.

In the last decade, Texas has seen a 24.8% job growth, and it doesn't look like the state is slowing down anytime soon.

Oregon: Oregon's economy is thriving, as the state has seen a 23.7% job growth between March 2009 to March 2019.

Oregon's successful job growth rate can be attributed to the rising demand for workers in fields as diverse as construction and healthcare.

Plus, the state's vibrant services sector -- financial, professional, leisure, and hospitality, along with the growing high-tech sector, is contributing to the job boom that Oregon is experiencing.

Start-ups as well as more established West Coast companies have been moving from more expensive states like California to Oregon, because of its relative affordability.

Florida: Florida, [has an] above average GDP. The state has experienced a 26.2% job growth since 2009, with a year over year job growth of 2.7%

Construction in the state is booming, as more and more people move to Florida in search of moderate climate and beach living.

Along with construction, Florida has seen a surge in the manufacturing sector and the service sector, as well as tech, aerospace and healthcare.

Zippia’s survey is comprehensive and provides data for all 51 states, along with interactive maps, charts, links and a complete description of the methodology. This information is a great for researching and creating a job search plan.

Best -- And Worst -- Entry-Level Jobs

Now, if you’re curious about what’s good or not so good in entry-level jobs, you need to look at Wallethub’s 2019’s Best & Worst Entry-Level Jobs. They note, “In search of answers and actionable information for the Class of 2019, WalletHub took stock of the first-timer job market by comparing 109 entry-level positions based on 13 key metrics. Our data set ranges from median starting salary to projected job growth by 2026 to median tenure with employer. Check out the complete breakdown of our findings, expert job-hunting advice and a full description of our methodology below.”

Here’s the snapshot overview of what this report has to say. Click the above link for the full story.

Best Entry-Level Jobs

1. Electrical Engineer I

2. Systems Engineer I

3. Engineer I

4. Env. and Safety Engineer I

5. Hardware Engineer I

6. Web Applications Developer I

7. Electronics Engineer I

8. Industrial Engineer I

9. Architect I

10. Operations Research Analyst I

Worst Entry-Level Jobs

100.  Machinist I

101.  Sheetmetal Mechanic I

102.  Building Inspector

103.  Carpenter I

104.  Aircraft Painter I

105.  Tool and Die Maker I

106.  Automotive Mechanic I

107.  Floor Assembler I

108.  Boilermaker I

109. Welder I

Best vs. Worst

Tax attorneys have the highest average starting salary, $97,559, which is 5.9 times higher than that of a college teaching assistant, the job with the lowest at $16,622.

Employee-relations specialists have the highest income growth potential, 6.4, which is 3.6 times higher than that of a bank teller, the job with the lowest at 1.8.

Benefits administrators have the longest median tenure with their employers, 6.4 years, which is 2.1 times higher than that of a certified occupational therapist assistant, the job with the shortest at 3.0 years.

Certified occupational therapist assistants have the highest projected job growth by 2026, 28.9 percent.

Although web-application developers are among the 10 best entry-level jobs, computer operators have the grimmest job outlook, with 22.8 percent of jobs in the field projected to be cut by 2026.

Summarizing: With these two resources, you can not only see where the best percentages for job growth are, but you can also see which jobs are best and worse. Hopefully, this will help those of you new grads who haven’t already found your first job secure a solid start to your career path in a place with promise.