, , , , ,

Falling unemployment rates driving increased demand for Wisconsin college students

Job placement rates for graduates increasing at some campuses surpassing pre-pandemic levels

Schofield Hall at UW-Eau Claire
Schofield Hall, the main administrative building at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Photo courtesy of UW-Eau Claire

Wisconsin college students and recent graduates are in high demand as state and national unemployment rates continue to drop.

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced an increase of 431,000 non-farm jobs, which pushed the national unemployment rate down to 3.6 percent.

On March 25, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reported the state’s unemployment rate tied a record low of 2.9 percent. An agency spokesperson said there are currently more than 138,000 job postings on the Job Center of Wisconsin website.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Staci Heidtke, the director of career services at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said campus data shows job placement rates for graduates are exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

A survey of graduates from UW-Eau Claire’s class of 2021 show that 97.6 percent said they were either employed or continuing their education. That’s up from 96.3 percent of graduates from the class of 2019, according to campus data.

“They have lots of options to choose from, and they’re coming in, sometimes with opportunities that are in different cities, different states because the employers are now offering remote work options,” Heidtke said.

Bryan Barts, UW-Stout director of career services, said employers are very active in their recruitment efforts. He said last month 300 employers attended a multi-day career fair on campus.

“With this kind of increased hiring activity, we also see an increased number of what we call reneging on offers, or some people would call it ghosting, where a student will accept a position and then a month later, they get what they think is a better position,” Barts said. “And so, then they renege on that first one.”

According to UW-Stout’s “First Destination Report,” 98.4 percent of survey respondents from the 2020-2021 graduating class were either employed or continuing their education after graduation.

Chris Magnuson, Western Technical College career services advisor, said more job opportunities for current students sometimes hampers recruitment efforts at campus career fairs.

“What I’ve noticed, and our whole team has noticed, it’s a little tougher to get students to a career fair,” Magnuson said. “They all have jobs.”

In an email to WPR, Jenny McGilligan, Milwaukee Area Technical College director of student employment, career and transfer, said they’re seeing more engagement and follow-through from employers courting college students.

“We continue to see a demand for current students for early industry engagement, rather than just targeting the graduating class,” McGilligan said. “Employers are willing to do more on the job training and flexible scheduling so students can remain students.”