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Does Improved Job Market Bode Well for Worcester College Grads?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

 

With just weeks until graduation, the job market is something that is closely examined by many college students ready to make their transition into their first real job. These students hope that they will be able to find a job that fits the subjects that they have been studying for the past four years.

Recently released statistical information from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce show continuing job growth in Massachusetts as well as unemployment rates that have dropped from 6.8-percent in February 2014 to 6.6-percent in March 2014, a figure that is down from 7.1-percent in March 2013. While this looks to be a positive scene for prospective graduates, do these figures accurately project that there will be more jobs? 

“The March report brings the total number of jobs in Massachusetts to nearly 3.4 million (3,396,400), the highest number in 13 years,” said Ann Dufresne, the Communications Director at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. “While we continue to see higher unemployment rates among the young and older residents and that not all regions are sharing equally in the economy recovery, we are encouraged that the job numbers show slow and steady growth.”

The unemployment rate of 7.6-percent in Worcester is higher than the current state average, but it should be noted that only the Boston, Cambridge, Quincy area grew more jobs in March. 

With a variety of college and university graduations in the coming weeks and a variety of business incubation centers cultivating small and innovative startup companies, all eyes are on Worcester to see if the combination of a slowly but steadily growing economy paired with a crop of soon to be graduates will continue to push the economy to the next level.

Keeping Graduates in the Area

One of the largest concerns associated with having a variety of colleges, universities, and other training programs in a single city is how to keep all of the graduating students from fleeing Worcester when they graduate. 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is one of the many colleges in the area devoted to giving students the training that they need to be successful later on in life. While keeping college graduates in the area to help contribute to the local economy is an issue and something that is hard to gather into a statistical outcome, WPI feels that their students are receiving the proper training to compete for a job in any job market. 

“WPI students are sought after and many of them receive healthy job offers while they’re completing their senior year of college, which is a very positive sign,” said David Ortendahl, director of Corporate Relations for the Career Development Center at WPI. “We’re able to provide all students with the tools to be successful and [our biomedical engineering and robotics engineering programs] exemplify our success.” 

Ortendahl says that over the past four years, the number of WPI graduates going into the industry has risen from around 60-percent to around 70-percent, with another 25-percent entering graduate school. Over the past several years, programs like biomedical and robotics engineering have increased in popularity.

Worcester’s colleges are preparing students for the future but how is it possible to track whether or not these graduates are looking in Worcester or nearby cities for work? While statistical information about whether graduate students are coming to Worcester or leaving for other areas of the state or country, the Worcester Research Bureau is hoping to complete a report that would analyze such information. 

“We are currently working to complete a survey to understand how many college graduates are staying in Worcester, how many are leaving when they graduate, and how many Worcester natives are coming back after they graduate elsewhere,” said Timothy McGourthy, the Executive Director of the Worcester Research Bureau. “Right now we are collecting data so it is hard to say any potential outcome from the information. What we do know is that the 25 to 34 year old population in the Worcester area is high and 35 to 40-percent of that bracket has a form of college degree.”

While too early to tell how many people aged 25-34 in Worcester are a byproduct of a local education, McGourthy says that the job market appears to be ready for students graduating in the coming weeks. Although no large growth has appeared in any particular sector in the Worcester area, the slow and steady growth is a good sign for those ready to enter the job market.

“I don’t think any one sector is contributing to decreasing the unemployment rates,” said McGourthy. “What we have seen is that all sectors and businesses are doing their part to add jobs here and there and to decrease unemployment. I think that this bodes very well for college students who will be graduating soon; the data certainly shows a consistent growth for Worcester and Massachusetts as a whole.”

Healthcare Sector

One of the largest and most prominent sectors in Worcester is the education and health services sector, which grew more than twice that of any other sector in the city from February 2014 to March. 

Education and health services is a broad sector that encompasses a lot of different job fields, but health care specifically is one area that is prevalent in Worcester, not only because of the many hospitals and training schools, but because of businesses like Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives.

Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives is a company devoted to offering space and resources to biomedical startup companies, which is much different than the doctors and nurses that many think of when the word health services comes to mind.

Kevin O’Sullivan, the company’s president and CEO, sees a lot of potential in Worcester and its surrounding areas in fields such as biomedical engineering, contract manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, and life science programs, and has even seen local colleges build programs to support those particular fields. 

Being a president and CEO of a company that provides assistance to startup companies, O’Sullivan has seen a lot of ways in which graduates can become involved in the local economy. 

“I have seen a lot of college graduates going on to help with some of these smaller startup companies,” said O’Sullivan. “I think that there are a lot more opportunities in Worcester than there have been in years. I think that when people talk about college students, they want to keep them in the area because they are people who have skills in a particular area or profession.”

Part of giving college graduates a chance in the job market, is giving them the proper skills and tools to make them marketable as employees. O’Sullivan says that local Worcester colleges are doing a great job of preparing college students for jobs and careers in the health services field. 

“When people mention the wealth of local health services programs in the Worcester area, it is music to my ears,” said O’Sullivan. “I think that the education system in Worcester is humming, which bodes well for the local economy.”

Finding New Manufacturing Jobs

Of the ten sectors of jobs in the Worcester area, three sectors experienced no change and one experienced a loss in the past month. Of the three that remained unchanged, manufacturing is a sector that has drawn a lot of attention and focus in Massachusetts as of late. 

Industry experts and members of the Massachusetts government don’t feel that the traditional manufacturing market – something that Worcester was once known for – is something that will be making a comeback to the area, but a new wave of manufacturing jobs could certainly be injected sooner than later. 

“The manufacturing jobs that we once knew are something that we are never going to get back,” said Dufresne. “With the Governor’s latest advanced manufacturing initiative, there is an attempt to make up for some of these manufacturing jobs by finding new middle skill jobs that would include technical and IT jobs.”

Dufresne says that the benefits of creating and fostering advanced manufacturing jobs is that in most cases, they do not require a traditional four year college degree, which allows for people who are looking for a less traditional education to have an opportunity to find a well paying career.

”It takes a unique kind of training to plug someone into an advanced manufacturing job,” said Dufresne. “These are jobs that currently have vacancies and do not require a bachelor’s degree. And just because you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to compete for one of these jobs, it doesn’t mean that they are not good paying. A middle skill job in the manufacturing sector can pay $75,000 a year, which could certainly support a family.”
 

 

Related Slideshow: Central MA Unemployment Rates #72 - #1

Here are the unemployment statistics for each town in Central Mass, ranked from least to most-

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#72

Harvard

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 4.4%

Unemployed: 140

Employed: 3,059

Total workforce: 3,199

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#71

Hopkinton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 4.7%

Unemployed: 369

Employed: 7,523

Total workforce: 7,892

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#69 (Tie)

Berlin

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 4.9%

Unemployed: 79

Employed: 1,520

Total workforce: 1,599

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#69 (Tie)

Hopedale

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 4.9%

Unemployed: 159

Employed: 3,074

Total workforce: 3,233

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#67 (Tie)

Bolton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.1%

Unemployed: 147

Employed: 2,733

Total workforce: 2,880

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#67 (Tie)

Southborough

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.1%

Unemployed: 257

Employed: 4,813

Total workforce: 5,070

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#66

Marlborough

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.5%

Unemployed: 1,283

Employed: 21,909

Total workforce: 23,192

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#65

Northborough

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.6%

Unemployed: 432

Employed: 7,259

Total workforce: 7,691

Prev Next

#62 (Tie)

Mendon

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.7%

Unemployed: 196

Employed: 3,218

Total workforce: 3,414

Prev Next

#62 (Tie)

Princeton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.7%

Unemployed: 107

Employed: 1,764

Total workforce: 1,871

Prev Next

#62 (Tie)

Topsfield

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.7%

Unemployed: 176

Employed: 2,910

Total workforce: 3,086

Prev Next

#61

Boylston

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.8%

Unemployed: 134

Employed: 2,167

Total workforce: 2,301

Prev Next

#58 (Tie)

Shrewsbury

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.9%

Unemployed: 1,084

Employed: 17,152

Total workforce: 18,236

Prev Next

#58 (Tie)

Sterling

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.9%

Unemployed: 256

Employed: 4,112

Total workforce: 4,368

Prev Next

#58 (Tie)

Westborough

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 5.9%

Unemployed: 525

Employed: 8,415

Total workforce: 8,940

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#56 (Tie)

Sturbridge

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.0%

Unemployed: 306

Employed: 4,763

Total workforce: 5,069

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#56 (Tie)

Upton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.0%

Unemployed: 241

Employed: 3,752

Total workforce: 3,993

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#53 (Tie)

Douglas

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.1%

Unemployed: 290

Employed: 4,469

Total workforce: 4,759

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#53 (Tie)

Hudson

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.1%

Unemployed: 696

Employed: 10,740

Total workforce: 11,436

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#53 (Tie)

Milford

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.1%

Unemployed: 954

Employed: 14,670

Total workforce: 15,624

Prev Next

#51 (Tie)

Oakham

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.3%

Unemployed: 65

Employed: 973

Total workforce: 1,038

Prev Next

#51 (Tie)

Sutton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.3%

Unemployed: 302

Employed: 4,500

Total workforce: 4,802

Prev Next

#48 (Tie)

Holden

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.4%

Unemployed: 576

Employed: 8,430

Total workforce: 9,006

Prev Next

#48 (Tie)

Paxton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.4%

Unemployed: 158

Employed: 2,327

Total workforce: 2,485

Prev Next

#48 (Tie)

Shirley

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.4%

Unemployed: 223

Employed: 3,269

Total workforce: 3,492

Prev Next

#46 (Tie)

Ayer

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.5%

Unemployed: 283

Employed: 4,100

Total workforce: 4,383

Prev Next

#46 (Tie)

Hardwick

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.5%

Unemployed: 94

Employed: 1,359

Total workforce: 1,453

Prev Next

#45

Grafton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.6%

Unemployed: 635

Employed: 9,043

Total workforce: 9,678

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#42 (Tie)

Hubbardston

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.7%

Unemployed: 163

Employed: 2,255

Total workforce: 2,418

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#42 (Tie)

Millbury

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.7%

Unemployed: 489

Employed: 6,787

Total workforce: 7,276

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#42 (Tie)

Petersham

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.7%

Unemployed: 43

Employed: 596

Total workforce: 639

Prev Next

#40 (Tie)

Lancaster

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.8%

Unemployed: 240

Employed: 3,281

Total workforce: 3,521

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#40 (Tie)

Townsend

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 6.8%

Unemployed: 346

Employed: 4,738

Total workforce: 5,084

Prev Next

#38 (Tie)

Charlton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.0%

Unemployed: 491

Employed: 6,483

Total workforce: 6,974

Prev Next

#38 (Tie)

Dudley

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.0%

Unemployed: 431

Employed: 5,696

Total workforce: 6,127

Prev Next

#33 (Tie)

Auburn

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.1%

Unemployed: 613

Employed: 8,024

Total workforce: 8,637

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#33 (Tie)

East Brookfield

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.1%

Unemployed: 86

Employed: 1,129

Total workforce: 1,215

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#33 (Tie)

Holland

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.1%

Unemployed: 99

Employed: 1,291

Total workforce: 1,390

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#33 (Tie)

New Braintree

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.1%

Unemployed: 40

Employed: 524

Total workforce: 564

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#33 (Tie)

Rutland

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.1%

Unemployed: 313

Employed: 4,081

Total workforce: 4,394

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#32

Oxford

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.2%

Unemployed: 548

Employed: 7,032

Total workforce: 7,580

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#31

Uxbridge

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.3%

Unemployed: 536

Employed: 6,784

Total workforce: 7,320

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#30

Leicester

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.5%

Unemployed: 450

Employed: 5,565

Total workforce: 6,015

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#27 (Tie)

Ashburnham

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.6%

Unemployed: 236

Employed: 2,865

Total workforce: 3,101

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#27 (Tie)

Lunenburg

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.6%

Unemployed: 398

Employed: 4,850

Total workforce: 5,248

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#27 (Tie)

Northbridge

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.6%

Unemployed: 608

Employed: 7,383

Total workforce: 7,991

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#26

Spencer

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.7%

Unemployed: 492

Employed: 5,935

Total workforce: 6,427

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#24 (Tie)

Ware

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.9%

Unemployed: 394

Employed: 4,611

Total workforce: 5,005

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#24 (Tie)

West Boylston

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 7.9%

Unemployed: 259

Employed: 3,035

Total workforce: 3,294

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#21 (Tie)

Brimfield

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.0%

Unemployed: 152

Employed: 1,745

Total workforce: 1,897

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#21 (Tie)

Templeton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.0%

Unemployed: 305

Employed: 3,520

Total workforce: 3,825

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#21 (Tie)

Westminster

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.0%

Unemployed: 297

Employed: 3,417

Total workforce: 3,714

Prev Next

#19 (Tie)

North Brookfield

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.1%

Unemployed: 195

Employed: 2,224

Total workforce: 2,419

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#19 (Tie)

Palmer

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.1%

Unemployed: 508

Employed: 5,772

Total workforce: 6,280

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#18

Warren

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.4%

Unemployed: 209

Employed: 2,271

Total workforce: 2,480

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#17

West Brookfield

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.6%

Unemployed: 155

Employed: 1,652

Total workforce: 1,807

Prev Next

#15 (Tie)

Royalston

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.7%

Unemployed: 52

Employed: 547

Total workforce: 599

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#15 (Tie)

Webster

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.7%

Unemployed: 723

Employed: 7,569

Total workforce: 8,292

Prev Next

#13 (Tie)

Brookfield

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.8%

Unemployed: 163

Employed: 1,695

Total workforce: 1,858

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#13 (Tie)

Millville

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.8%

Unemployed: 158

Employed: 1,642

Total workforce: 1,800

Prev Next

#11 (Tie)

Barre

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.9%

Unemployed: 244

Employed: 2,510

Total workforce: 2,754

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#11 (Tie)

Worcester

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 8.9%

Unemployed: 7,562

Employed: 77,653

Total workforce: 85,215

Prev Next

#9 (Tie)

Ashby

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.0%

Unemployed: 149

Employed: 1,503

Total workforce: 1,652

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#9 (Tie)

Orange

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.0%

Unemployed: 332

Employed: 3,356

Total workforce: 3,688

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#7 (Tie)

Blackstone

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.2%

Unemployed: 488

Employed: 4,824

Total workforce: 5,312

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#7 (Tie)

Clinton

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.2%

Unemployed: 676

Employed: 6,652

Total workforce: 7,328

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#6

Winchendon

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.3%

Unemployed: 453

Employed: 4,407

Total workforce: 4,860

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#5

Leominster

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.6%

Unemployed: 1,937

Employed: 18,141

Total workforce: 20,078

Prev Next

#3 (Tie)

Southbridge

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.9%

Unemployed: 787

Employed: 7,127

Total workforce: 7,914

Prev Next

#3 (Tie)

Gardner

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 9.9%

Unemployed: 934

Employed: 8,514

Total workforce: 9,448

Prev Next

#2

Fitchburg

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 10.0%

Unemployed: 1,829

Employed: 16,435

Total workforce: 7,914

Prev Next

#1

Athol

Unemployment rate, August 2013: 10.5%

Unemployed: 543

Employed: 4,647

Total workforce: 5,190

 
 

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