A surging employment market

It is important to understand that this economic boom isn’t just a national gain.

As a parent with a sophomore in college, I know firsthand the pressures facing young students as they look toward the future and attempt to map out their postgraduate lives. This is an uncertain time for many students, and finding a job after finishing school can be a stressful process. I am happy to report there is good news waiting on the other side of graduation for students navigating the job market.

Prospective and recent college graduates are facing the best job market since 2001, as strong growth and falling unemployment make this spring the hottest job market in recent years. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows employers plan to hire 14.5 percent more new college graduates than a year ago. This is great news for America’s 1.4 million expected graduates. Starting salaries also are anticipated to be higher than last year.

Although you may not hear much about this in the news, we have a strong economy. Pro-growth tax policies are working and the labor market continues to expand. Unemployment numbers are down and more Americans are finding their ways into the workforce. Since President George W. Bush’s tax relief was implemented in May 2003, the economy has created nearly 5 million new jobs. College students should feel great about the direction of our economy and their futures. As your senator and as a father, I am also optimistic and confident about this direction.

While the stress of finishing school and looking ahead to the future often weighs on the minds of college students, it should be comforting to know a strong job market awaits your graduation. With the United States close to reaching full employment, many employers already are searching for benefits to attract the best talent to their companies. This is an unprecedented phenomenon with respect to college graduates and employers.

It is also important to understand that this economic boom isn’t just a national gain. In Minnesota we have shown impressive growth as well. Over the past two years, more than 73,000 jobs have been created statewide, and a record number of businesses – nearly 54,000 – have started this past year alone. This is almost a 40 percent increase since 2000 and is great news for employers and employees alike. Minnesota’s unemployment level (4.2 percent) is far below the national average (4.8 percent), and we are working to pass the tax reconciliation bill that would further ease the economic burden incumbent on many college students.

I understand the challenges posed by the rising cost of college for families and students. My son’s tuition bill reminds me of this each semester. This is why I also am working hard to raise the maximum Pell Grant award to help students finance their college education. It is important that every student, no matter his or her background, has the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education, and these Pell Grants play an integral role in reducing the cost of college tuition.

I want to congratulate all college seniors on achieving your degrees and entering the next exciting phases of your lives. They say timing is everything, and when it comes to entering the workforce in search of your first fulltime job, it appears the timing couldn’t be better for the class of 2006.

Norm Coleman is a Republican U.S. senator from Minnesota. Please send comments to [email protected]