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The Class of 2019: Utah college graduates facing great economy

A valedictorian heavily criticized her high school faculty during her graduation speech in San Diego, CA. (Photo: Butch Dill, Associated Press)

Editorial note: the following is the first in a three-part series on the opportunities available to the Class of 2019.

College graduates all over the state are trading in their caps and gowns for the real world — and hopefully, a paycheck.

It’s college graduation season, and one economist says these grads are entering the best Utah job market in the past 15 years.

“You have very low unemployment, you have very strong job growth going on, and in the last two years you are also starting to see wage growth going,” said Mark Knold, a senior economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

“There’s wage growth and bidding among graduates, so it’s a very good market to be in right now,” he said.

Graduates at work

One new University of Utah graduate this week, Alisa Cloward, has had a job lined up since last October. She’ll be moving to Washington to work for Microsoft as a software engineer. Cloward got the job through the Education at Work program, a non-profit that connects college students with companies.

“It’s been quite a relief to know I had a job lined up since last October. But even before I got the job, I was so worried about it, wondering what I was going to do post-graduation,” she said.

She says thankfully most of her friends have jobs afterward as well, but it has been stressful.

Knold says hopefully new graduates won’t be stressed for long.

“Here in Utah, we have a very diversified economy, so with this kind of job growth of 3 percent or higher, there are opportunities across all the spectrum of the economy for jobs and opportunities,” he said.

Coming up in part two: is Utah producing the right kind of graduates?