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Have Salaries by Career Reached a Leveled-Off Point?

July 30th, 2010

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Most of us go to college, not to learn, but to achieve a higher level of education that will hopefully lead to a well-rounded future career, complete with a high salary. This dream of an idealistic future came crashing down for many recent graduates as they now realized the economy has affected them in more ways than they would have thought.  Many are now stuck living back with their parents at the age of 22, with a college degree that is virtually useless, working in the retail or restaurant industry while they hope for a better future.  College loans begin to pile up and they look at their diploma in despair, wondering if their life would have been better had they not gone to college and racked up enormous sums of debt, instead opting to begin their career at 18.  It certainly makes sense to many of us recent grads who look at retail managers who easily make close to three figures as the result of only five years of work in the industry.

Putting all those gloomy thoughts aside, we are left to ponder over our future career salaries.  When we eventually find our spot in a stable career, will we still have the ideal salary we worked so hard for?  What will all this work eventually be worth?  At this point, many salaries have remained frozen, as have most potential job openings.  Most companies are too afraid to hire recent grads, and instead choose to hire more experienced workers who have been laid off from other companies.  However, their salaries have been frozen for several years, resulting in a backlash from many workers who are angry with the turn the economy has taken.  We are still waiting for it to turn back in our favor.  The economy is difficult to understand, but from the way I see it, the fact that the banks needed a helping hand was the first sign of trouble.  Major companies saw the mass lay-offs that were happening and froze their assets immediately, including employees’ pay raises.  From this point on, many of us in college knew we were doomed for the next few years.

However, hope is not lost.  The economy is slowly finding its footing, and rather than end on a dark note, we are ending on one that is highly optimistic.  Career salaries are beginning to come back into existence and raises are slowly beginning to take effect again.  Many of us in the oil and gas industry only recently experienced this type of freeze-out (which many be unlikely to quell, especially at BP), but for those of us in different industries, it looks like the storm has passed over.  Salaries will undoubtedly continue to rise as most economists predict and we will hopefully see a decrease in the unemployment rate and a rise in career opportunities for recent graduates.  For the next year, however, many of us are still left living in our parents’ basements, wondering where we went wrong in the education-based plan for college.  Just don’t give up hope – salaries will rise again and jobs will open up!


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