With the national unemployment rate growing to its highest since October 1998 and productivity falling for the first time in six years, it would seem likely that this year?s graduating seniors face a much more grim job market.

In April, the U.S. economy shed 223,000 jobs to send unemployment up 0.2 percent to 4.5 percent and in the year?s first quarter, the 0.1 percent loss in productivity was the first decline since 1995.

A year ago, the unemployment rate stood at 4 percent while productivity increased 2.1 percent. The real Gross Domestic Product expanded at annual rate of 4.8 percent during the first quarter, in contrast to this year?s more modest 2-percent growth.

However, many at UR are still upbeat about future prospects.

?We feel good about this year,? Career Center director Burt Nadler said. ?This year should be comparable to last year.?

Although all of the data for the Class of 2001 has not been collected, Nadler believes that one-third of the class is officially unemployed at this point. The other two-thirds of the seniors will be continuing on to graduate school or are already employed.

?This is a year where the diversity of student interests ? turns out to be a true asset,? Nadler said. Because UR is not a technical school, its graduates are not as dependent on information and Internet technologies, he said.

?Even though the economy is slowing down, there are a lot of good jobs out there, particularly for skilled people,? Professor of Economics Alan Stockman said. ?If you?re committed to your work, you?re enthusiastic and [pursue jobs that are of personal interest], the economic slowdown will have little or no effect on you.?

Among seniors looking for jobs, reaction has been mixed.

Scott Klein, a psychology major and a theater minor, landed a position last month as a Broadway tours marketing assistant for Cameron MacIntosh. He gained the job after sending out nearly 70 copies of his resume, which listed internships in Boston, New York, London and Rochester.

?I think for me, it was very difficult,? Klein said. ?Even though my resume was strong, my field was very competitive.?

Health and society major Rhonda Lemaire has also found work despite the sluggish economy. She will be working at Cambridge-based Biogen as a customer support specialist.

?I found [the job] through the UR Connected in Boston,? she said. After sending out around 20 to 25 resumes, she was offered the position earlier this month.

For Scott Goldman, an economics and political science major, finding a job has proven especially difficult. He has been looking for work in Boston in finance, but has sent out approximately 50 resumes across the country.

?I have gotten some interviews, gone for interviews but didn?t get the job,? Goldman said.

Bri Provo has also experienced difficulty in finding full-time employment. With majors in psychology and American Sign Language, she has sent out about a dozen resumes to an array of mental health agencies and clinics in the Philadelphia area.

?It?s hard when you?re not in the area. [Interviews are difficult and] it?s hard getting information about jobs from places,? she said.

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