Hiring OK for college grads, but Ga. sees high demand in food-service

People lined up for more than 500 jobs offered at a recent Airport Community Job Fair. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
People lined up for more than 500 jobs offered at a recent Airport Community Job Fair. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

The hiring outlook for new college graduates is good, a national survey finds, but the largest increase in the number of job openings Georgia’s labor department forecasts for 2018 is in a field that doesn’t require a college degree.

The Georgia Department of Labor’s 2016-18 employment projections show the number of jobs in “food services and drinking places” growing from 357,640 in 20016 to 386,750 in 2018, an increase of 29,110 openings, just over 8 percent. It defines that job category as including “combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food; waiters and waitresses; cooks, restaurant; supervisors of food preparation and serving workers; cashiers.”

The next highest projected increase increase Georgia’s labor department sees, though, is in “professional, scientific, and technical services,” where an additional 15,690 openings are forecast for next year, about 6.5 percent more than in 2016. That category includes accountants and auditors, software developers and computer systems analysts, jobs that generally require a degree.

A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that employers anticipate hiring 5 percent more college graduates from the Class of 2017 than they hired from the Class of 2016, continuing a positive trend. That’s roughly the same increase in hiring predicted by the group’s previous three reports.

The group’s latest forecast is based on a survey of businesses in February and March.

Since last fall, the association says, “the group of respondents that are planning to decrease their college hires overall has dropped below 10 percent. Meanwhile, the groups planning to increase or maintain their hiring numbers have grown slightly.”

In Georgia, the largest percentage increase in job openings the labor department predicts for 2018 is in “specialty trade contractors” including electricians, construction laborers, heating and air conditioning mechanics and installers and plumbers. An increase of just under 15,000 jobs, 14 percent more, is projected in that employment field.

Other increases expected are in “ambulatory health care services,” 13,610 openings, 7 percent more; “administrative support services,” 11,000 openings, 4 percent more than last year; and “educational services,” 10,950 openings, about 3 percent more.

The state labor department’s “short-term employment projections” are two-year occupational forecasts compiled each year.