Economic Impact: College Grads in May can Expect Higher Wages

Posted on May 2, 2022 by Chris Chmura

This article was originally published in the Richmond Times Dispatch on April 30, 2022. 

College seniors graduating this month will be entering a stronger labor market than last year’s graduates with higher wages because of the jump in inflation.

Nonfarm employment increased by 431,000 in March but remains 1.6 million below the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, compensation earned by employees in February 2022 rose 11.5% from the previous year. In the pre-pandemic month of February 2020, it increased 5.5% from the previous year.

Based on job postings, which are a leading indicator of employment, many new graduates will find ample opportunities.

In the Richmond area, job postings have been higher this year than last year, according to Chmura Economics & Analytics’ JobsEQ technology platform. During the first week of April, job postings were 17% higher than a year ago.

For jobs that require an associate’s degree or higher, the strongest demand is for workers with skills in the broad areas of computer and math, healthcare practitioners and business and finance.

The top four occupations Richmond businesses are currently seeking are computer and information systems managers with an average entry-level salary of $159,900 based on 2020 data (the latest year for which data are available), software developers at $103,700, registered nurses at $79,700 and medical and health services managers at $120,900. 

Firms with the most openings for these positions in the Richmond area are Capital One with almost 400 job posts, followed by HCA, VCU Health System and Humana. Each organization has at least 150 job posts in the last 30 days ending with April 9.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are many occupations where demand is low. In the Richmond region, for example, there were fewer than 10 job posts for travel agents, dermatologists and library assistants.

High school graduates should also find plenty of opportunities in the job market.

More than 14,000 job posts in the Richmond area over the last 30 days require a high school diploma or equivalent. At the top of the list are retail sales positions with a median wage of $13.05 an hour based on ads that post wages followed by first-line supervisors of retail sales workers at $16.20 an hour, stockers and order fillers at $15.00 an hour and maintenance and repair positions at $20.60 an hour.

This blog reflects Chmura staff assessments and opinions with the information available at the time the blog was written.