Athens, Ga. – Graduates of the nation’s journalism and mass communication programs confronted a spring 2009 job market unlike any seen in the nearly 25 years for which comparable data are available.
All indicators of market health in 2009 and early 2010 showed declines from a year earlier, which already had produced record low levels of employment.
Salaries remained unchanged for the fourth consecutive year, meaning that graduates actually were receiving less money because of the effects of inflation.
Benefits packages also continued to get skimpier.
These are the key findings from the Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates, conducted each year in the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia. The Cox Center is the international outreach unit of the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The median salary earned by journalism and mass communication bachelor’s degree recipients entering the job market in 2009 with a full-time job was $30,000-the same as in 2008, 2007 and 2006, according to Lee B. Becker, professor of journalism and director of the survey. However, given the 2 percent inflation rate for the 12 months ending in May 2010, the 2009 median salary represents a real drop in purchasing power over a year earlier.
“The 2009 graduates, in sum, suffered the double whammy of stagnant salaries in a period of inflation, which results in decreased purchasing power, and declining benefits,” Becker noted.
Bachelor’s degree recipients who were members of racial or ethnic minorities had a particularly difficult time in the job market in 2009, and their level of full-time employment dropped from 62.1 percent to 48.6 percent. The gap between the level of employment of non-minority and minority graduates in 2009 is the largest ever recorded in the graduate survey.
For the second year in a row, the percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients who reported they took the job they held simply because it was the only one available to them increased dramatically. Over the last two years, that percentage has grown from 23.1 percent in 2007 to 43.9 percent in 2009.
Perhaps because they simply were happy to have a job in such a bad market, the 2009 bachelor’s degree recipients reported job satisfaction levels nearly equal to what was reported by the 2008 graduates.
The level of part-time employment also was at a record high in 2009, as was the percentage of students who stayed in school rather than enter the job market.
Comments from the graduates to the 2009 Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates reflected a real sense of frustration and desperation. About one in three of the students said they regretted their career choice.
One student said that nothing he had done at the university prepared him “to deal with this horrible economy.” His advice to 2010 students not yet graduated was direct: “Stay in school forever. It all goes downhill from here.”
The graduate survey produced one bit of good news, according to Becker. Graduates reporting on their job searches in the late spring of 2010 were much more likely to have found a full-time job than were graduates reporting at the end of 2009.
Further evidence that the journalism and mass communication labor market may be improving is that a higher percentage of graduates reported that the job they held was a permanent one than a year earlier.
The job market for journalism and mass communication graduates has historically had its ups and downs. “In the early 1990s, finding a job was difficult, and that situation improved as the decade progressed,” Becker explained. “In fact, in 2000, it appears nearly every graduate who was really trying hard to find a job found one. Six to eight months after graduation, more than 80 percent of the graduates had either a full-time or a part-time job. That good market was followed by a few bad years, and then, in 2003, the market started to recover. All looked good until 2008. And in 2009 the market was even worse.
“Clearly the biggest hope has to be that the national economy will rebound,” said Becker. “Historically, the job market for entry-level professional communication job seekers has reflected the job market for the overall economy.”
The full report, written by Becker and fellow researchers Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox Center, and Paris Desnoes and Devora Olin, Grady graduate students, was released today at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Denver. It included further breakdowns of data from various communication specialties such as news editorial, telecommunications, advertising and public relations.
The compete report is available at www.grady.uga.edu/annualsurveys/.
The Annual Survey of Journalism and Mass Communication Graduates is designed to monitor the employment rates and salaries of graduates of journalism and mass communication programs in the United States, including Puerto Rico, in the year after graduation. In addition, the survey tracks the curricular activities of those graduates while in college, examines their job-seeking strategies, and provides measures of the professional attitudes and behaviors of the graduates upon completion of their college studies.
Funding for the 2009 graduate survey was provided by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, Gannett, the Hearst Corporation, the McCormick Foundation, the National Association of Broadcasters, Newspaper Association of America, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation, Specialized Information Publishers Foundation, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers seven undergraduate majors: advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to WNEG-TV, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu.