Parents mull best gifts for grads in a down economy

In the days following the U.S. Department of Labor's announcement that the unemployment rate had hit its highest point since September 1983, parents of graduating college students are probably wishing they could give their children the gift of a job.

But since that's not possible most of the time, family and friends are left with a common dilemma as commencement day approaches: What to give in times of recession and slim job prospects?

The picture isn't pretty. Graduates are entering a job market where 539,0000 jobs were cut in April alone, and the jobless rate is at 8.9 percent. Research shows employers expect to hire 22 percent fewer college graduates this year than they hired last year. But even so, accounting graduates aren't feeling as much pain as graduates in other majors.

At a job fair in Waco, Texas, for example, students milled around, stopping at booths of 40 employers looking for new hires. Chase McVicker, 21, from Brush Prairie, WA, an information systems and economics major, said Conoco/Phillips in Bartlesville, OK hired him up before he graduates from Baylor University. He told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he had been chatting with other students - it seems as if those majoring in information systems, finance and accounting are having less trouble finding jobs than those studying marketing and management.

His impression is backed up by figures released by Monster.com. More than 410,000 new U.S. job postings were placed on the Web site over the 90 days ending April 18. Most in demand were computer systems analysts, accountants, registered nurses, and sales managers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Professor Stephen T. Limberg, faculty director of the University of Texas MPA program, is impressed by how flexible college graduates can be. They're savvy about the marketplace and adaptable. When it comes to giving gifts to new college graduates, Limberg said he gave his niece and nephew gifts that were tailored to their specific interests. For his sports management-oriented nephew, he bought stock in a company in that field. For his environmentally conscious niece, he bought carbon offsets. Another idea is to contribute in the graduate's name to a cause they are passionate about.

The Financial Planning Association suggested setting up college graduates for the future with a Roth IRA as a way for grandparents to "do something nice for their grandkids and something sensible for their estate." Grandparents can help them start a retirement fund, with parents or guardians opening the Roth account and grandparents making contributions to match the percentage of earnings kids put into it.

And to those worried parents, some words of hope from Harry Holzer, a professor at Georgetown University and former chief economist at the Labor Department. "There's always hiring going on," he told The Wall Street Journal. "The American labor market is characterized by a lot of churning. Beneath the net [job loss] numbers, there are always people quitting, so there's always replacement demand. There's less new demand, but there's still hiring, and that's true in a lot of sectors."

You may like these other stories...

For the first time in the five-year history of Vault.com’s rankings of the top 50 accounting firms to work for in North America, a firm has held the top spot as best accounting employer for two consecutive years....
With complex financial issues playing a larger role in litigation, and people increasingly turning to CPA experts to involve themselves in everything from criminal investigations to shareholder disputes to uncovering assets...
 Event Date: April 24, 2014 In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA introduces you to a powerful but underutilized macro feature in Excel. David will introduce the Macro Recorder, which transforms actions...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Apr 22
Is everyone at your organization meeting your client service expectations? Let client service expert, Kristen Rampe, CPA help you establish a reputation of top-tier service in every facet of your firm during this one hour webinar.
Apr 24
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA introduces you to a powerful but underutilized macro feature in Excel.
Apr 25
This material focuses on the principles of accounting for non-profit organizations' revenues. It will include discussions of revenue recognition for cash and non-cash contributions as well as other revenues commonly received by non-profit organizations.
Apr 30
During the second session of a four-part series on Individual Leadership, the focus will be on time management- a critical success factor for effective leadership. Each person has 24 hours of time to spend each day; the key is making wise investments and knowing what investments yield the greatest return.