Unemployment drop yields new top fields

Unemployment in the United States has dropped to a recent low of 7.8 percent with an increased demand for health care and education majors, according to Labor Department statistics.

This is the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009. According to USA Today, health care and education “were two fields, in addition to biology and life sciences, that remained in high demand during the economic recession.”

To some UNA students, this report comes as a relief.

“I thought about changing my major because of the difficulty of finding a job,” said Melanie Batchelor, an elementary education major. “Now that I know it’s a bigger field, I’m a little less worried about finding a job straight out of college.”

According to a study by Georgetown University, education is reported to have a 5.4 percent unemployment rate as of January 2012. This is the lowest unemployment rate out of a study of 15 career fields.

Batchelor, who has volunteered with the Forest Hills Elementary School tutoring program and has planned to teach on a K-4 level after graduating, said she decided to major in elementary education to have different opportunities to work with children.

“I love feeling helpful,” she said. “I like explaining things. That’s what made me want to be an education major.”

To other students, such as pre-pharmacy major Austin Oldag, this report does not come as a shock.

“Everyone always needs doctors,” he said. “Those are always in demand.”

He said he believes education and health care are always valued, especially in America. Oldag, who worked as a pharmacy technician at Russellville Pharmacy, said he decided on his major because of his interest in pharmacy work and in helping others.

“I kind of knew going into the field that I would have pretty good job security,” he said. “That’s one of the things that appealed to me about the field.”

According to the Georgetown study, health care also holds an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent currently, tying with education for the lowest unemployment rate.

According to the study, “In general, majors that are linked to occupations have better employment prospects than majors focused on general skills.”

Melissa Medlin, director of UNA Career Planning and Development, warns students about interpreting the statistics since they are national statistics.

“Students are always willing to do the jobs in demand,” she said. “It depends on where you’ll go and what you’ll do for a job, though.”

Medlin, who assists students with job searches and careers, said there should be a meeting between a student’s interests and the most in-demand fields. While education and passions are important, networking, seeking internships and getting on the path to an ideal job are also necessary to being realistic, she said.

“While there are certain fields that are more in demand than others, I feel that knowledge, skills and abilities greatly affect someone’s opportunities to be successful,” she said. “I see students nowadays with unrealistic expectations. There are jobs out there. We have to be willing to put ourselves out there and take chances.”