Survey indicates improving job market for WWU graduates

Posted by DAVE GALLAGHER on July 8, 2014 

WWU Graduation

Commencement services for graduating Western Washington University students in Carver Gymnasium at Western Washington University on Saturday morning June 14, 2014, in Bellingham, Wash.

PAUL CONRAD — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

More Western Washington University graduates are finding full-time work in their field of study soon after graduation, according to a newly released report.

Graduates receiving a bachelor's degree in 2012-13 reported the biggest gains in employment, according to the survey. Within six months of graduation 82 percent were employed, up from 80 percent the previous year. It's the highest percentage in at least eight years.

Starting salaries for Western graduates were down, however. The average annual starting wage for all 2012-13 Western graduates was $37,097, down 4 percent compared to the previous year.

One factor was the big jump the previous year: 2011-2012 graduates posted a 17 percent salary jump compared to the year before that, possibly an aberration. The 2012-13 average is about $2,000 above other recent years.

"It's a pretty positive report in terms of the job market," said Aaron Ignac, assistant director of operations at Western's Career Services Center.

The employers hiring the most WWU graduates in 2012-13 included a Bellingham technology company. Logos Bible Software was second to Boeing in terms of hiring, followed by Starbucks, Microsoft, Nordstrom, AmeriCorps and Costco.

Logos has filled a variety of positions and upped its WWU hires in the past year or two, said Bob Pritchett, president and CEO of the company. Logos currently employs 420 people full-time across the country, with slightly fewer than 400 employed in downtown Bellingham. Logos also has around 50 interns.

Ignac said internships are an important component for college students that soon will be entering the job market. He noted a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey that indicated 58 percent of internships resulted in full-time employment. WWU graduates with internship experience, on average, had a starting salary 19.6 percent higher than those without internship experience.

"Many employers are using internships as a long-term job interview," he said.

The percentage of graduates finding work within their field of study also increased to 53, up from 51 percent in 2011-2012.

Western's employment status survey also shows teachers remain in demand. The results indicate 94 percent of teacher certificate recipients were employed within six months. Ignac expects that to continue in the coming years, as trends indicate more positions will open because of retirement.

Most of Western's graduates land jobs within Washington state. Of the graduates reporting full-time employment, 79.1 percent work in Washington. That number rises higher when part-time employment is considered.

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