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Survey of J-school graduates finds slumping job prospects


By Scott Leadingham

Nearly 40 percent of graduates from undergraduate programs in journalism and mass communication in 2008 had trouble finding full-time employment, according to the recently released Annual Survey of Mass Communication Graduates. That number represents an increase in 10 percentage points over the previous year’s survey.

The statistic is just one of many sobering realities contained in the survey report of the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The college’s James M Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research has administered the survey since 1997.

Other findings include:

-Of those bachelor degree recipients with a full-time job, only 84 percent said it was a permanent position, down from 92.3 percent in 2007.

-Unemployment for 2008 graduates rose to 14.3 percent, up from 12.1 percent for graduates in the 2007 class.

-Master’s degree recipients also experienced trouble with full-time employment. Only 64.4 percent of 2008 master’s graduates had full-time jobs at the time of the survey, compared to 77.4 percent a year earlier.

-Compared to 2007, more 2008 graduates admitted taking a position because it was the “only job available.” Fewer reported that their job is what they wanted to do.

The report’s authors indicate that among myriad disheartening statistics, there is one positive number reflected in the survey. 2008 graduates who found work reported the same annual salary as their 2007 counterparts. According to the report: “With deflation, that actually represented a very slight increase in purchasing power capability.”

Click here to read the 2008 report and to access previous surveys. See also a summary with graphics here from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Research funding for the survey comes from at least 14 outside sponsors, ranging from educational and journalism foundations to media corporations. The Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, SPJ’s educational arm, is a 2008 project sponsor.

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