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Young or old, it's a good time to get a job

Key Points
  • Those armed with a newly minted diploma will enter a job market with unemployment near the lowest level in 50 years and job prospects up significantly from just last year.
  • At the same time, more older Amercians are actively seeking employment during what was commonly thought of as their retirement years.
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Young or old, it's a good time to get a job.

Those armed with a newly minted diploma will enter a job market with unemployment near the lowest level in 50 years and job prospects up significantly from just last year.

Employers plan to hire nearly 11% more graduates from the Class of 2019 than they did from the Class of '18, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. This also marks the first time since 2011 that hiring projections are in the double digits, the group said.

In addition, many offers pay better than they did last year in nearly every degree category, ranging from business to social sciences.

Once again, STEM degree holders are projected to earn the most overall as the demand for workers in science, technology, engineering and math occupations continues to increase, the association said.

Engineering was the top paid major this year, with an average starting salary of $69,188, followed by computer science and math. In 2018, grads earned an overall average of $51,022.

Even though a new generation is starting to enter the working world, employees age 65 and older are still the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among 65- to 74-year-olds, labor force participation is predicted to hit 32% by 2022, up from 20% in 2002. At age 75 and older, the rate will jump to 11% from 5% over the same time period.

Whether they have not saved enough money or because they prefer to work, nearly 3 in 4 Americans are actively seeking employment beyond traditional retirement age on at least a part-time basis, according to a Gallup poll.

A separate AARP study found that 37 percent of working Americans ages 50 to 64 said they intend to work after retiring from their current careers. Of those, 44 percent plan to enter new fields.

Those job seekers are more likely to be in management, legal and community or social service occupations than the overall workforce and less likely to be in computer and mathematical, food preparation and construction-related occupations, according to Pew Research Center.

Regardless of your age or position, when it comes to landing a sought-after gig in today's market, networking is still your best bet, experts say.

"Relationships follow you everywhere, " said Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career expert and co-founder of career coaching firm SixFigureStart.

Nearly two-thirds of hiring managers cited employee referrals as the most successful source for top applicants, yet only 48% of employees invest time to nurture job referrals, according to a Randstad and Future Workplace survey of 1,200 managers and employees.

"It's still about who you know even early in your career," Ceniza-Levine said.

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