Employment On the Rise
Unemployment rates are dropping across the nation, and are significantly lower in Arkansas and the northwest Arkansas region, suggesting that the job outlook for students is better locally.
For the first time since January 2009, the national unemployment rate fell below 8 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the month of September, the national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.
Arkansas’ unemployment rate for September 2012 was 7.1 percent, while northwest Arkansas’ preliminary figures for August 2012 were 5.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The state has had an unemployment rate below the national average for a while, remaining below 8 percent since October 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The northwest Arkansas region fares much better than the rest of the state, as well as the nation, based on the most recent data.
After graduating from the UA, many students have been able to find jobs in the current market, though one in five have not.
“The latest report we have was for 2010-2011,” said Angela Seawood Williams, director of University Career Development Center. “Fifty-two percent of UA graduates responded to post-graduate placement surveys, and the placement rate for those who responded was 81 percent.”
With the lower unemployment rate in the area, more students have jobs while they are in school, because they said it is not difficult to find one.
“I have two jobs, actually, an internship and an on-campus job while still taking 15 hours of coursework,” said Sherri Higgins, a senior in agricultural business. “I’ve worked since I was 16, so it’s nothing new to me. Gaining experience in the real world while taking coursework is beneficial for me, personally.”
It is an obligation, but one she doesn’t mind having, Higgins said.
“How do you expect to get a great job in the future if you don’t have experience to show you can do anything?” Higgins said.
Students said they think it is relatively easy to find a job in Fayetteville.
“In my opinion, a job in Fayetteville is always there if you want it,” Higgins said.
Michael Ludolph, a senior accounting student, said he has a job to pay tuition and other expenses, but said the ease of finding a job in Fayetteville depends on how picky a person is.
Students who do not get financial support from their parents find it incredibly important to find a job in order to afford their expenses.
Katherine Barnett, a senior journalism and art student, said she has worked multiple jobs at a time during college, because her parents don’t support her financially. She said she could never afford not to have a job.
“I have had a work-study job at the Boys and Girls Club of Fayetteville since my sophomore year, along with some other jobs on the side ever since then throughout college,” Barnett said. “I personally think it’s very difficult to balance going to school and having even a part-time job.”
Some students said it is difficult to balance their course load, even without a job.
Melissa Mabry, a freshman psychology student, said she does not have a job right now because her parents told her that her only job is to do well in school.
“I feel like I would be really overwhelmed working and trying to keep up with school,” Mabry said. “It’s already difficult without one.”
There are a few students who said it is hard to find a job, either from relocating or from lack of experience.
Bethany Fay Crow, a freshman history major, said she desperately needs a job, but has not been able to find one.
“I don’t have any previous work experience aside from babysitting and volunteer stuff,” Crow said.
Tami Swartout, a junior public relations student, said she has been looking for a job here since she transferred here from California over the summer.
“I need one to make up the difference in my school loans and rent and living expenses,” she said.
For students seeking jobs, the holiday season provides an opportunity for many seasonal jobs in the area. Retail stores such as Target, Academy Sports and several stores in the Northwest Arkansas Mall offer seasonal positions for help during the holidays, according to online job searches.