Thursday, October 04, 2007

Throwing some more numbers into the mix

During the ongoing discussion about PR education, several different sets of numbers have been cited about PR majors working in PR jobs. I consulted my colleague Lee Becker about it this morning because he conducts an Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Graduates. Lee pointed me to Grady's Cox Center Web site, which published last year's report in full.

A sample of 89 schools listed in the AEJMC Directory participated in last year's survey, in which questionnaires were sent to all spring graduates. Many of the questions are analyzed based on communication graduates generally, but in a few instances Lee and his colleagues pulled out results by major. Here are some stats:

By Oct. 31, 75% of PR majors had a full-time job; 6.3% had a part-time job; 6.3% continued in school; and 12.4% were unemployed.

Of those employed full time, the median salary of PR majors was $30,000, identical to the median for all 2006 bachelor's degree recipients with full-time jobs.

The most interesting finding in terms of the current debate concerns the type of job (see chart S18 in the appendix to the report). Of PR majors (or "emphasis"), 20.3% were working in PR jobs, almost equal to the number (18.5%) in jobs not in the communication field. Moreover, another 37.8% listed themselves in "other communication" jobs, which does not include telecomm, newspaper or advertising. I assume this would include graphic design, Web design, perhaps grant writing and the like.

Among ALL majors (not just PR, and excluding those not seeking work), 24.7% report seeking jobs at a PR agency and 26% in a PR department. The actual numbers hired were 3.9% and 2.5% respectively (chart S7).

Finally, again counting all majors, 4% say they never intended to work in communications. Assuming this holds true for PR majors, there are still almost 15% of PR majors in the survey who wanted to work in communications but couldn't find a job. Another 12% were unemployed. And we don't know if the 38% in the "other communication" jobs are happy with that.

Anecdotally, Lee mentioned to me that PR majors have consistently been the most likely to work in other fields. Is this because PR is a major that opens many doors? Or is it simply that they can't find jobs? It seems pretty clear that we have an obligation to find out.

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That's an effective 25 percent unemployment rate among graduates with bachelor's degrees, which should be of concern.
Does "other communication" include sales?
I have a feeling that's in "non-communications" but let me check with Lee.
Yes. We ask students to tell is if their job "involves communication activities and skills related to your area of study in college." If they say yes, we count it as a communication job. They next are asked to classify their work, and producing ads and selling ads are two of the categories.

Let me know if I can help further.

Lee Becker
Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication
Thanks for the clarification, Lee.
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