More good news for journalism grads

After several dismal years, the employment picture for new J-school grads continues to improve. According to the annual University of Georgia survey, more 2011 grads found jobs for the second year in a row. Within six to eight months of graduation, 62% said they were employed full time, compared to 58% the year before and just 55% in 2009.

The bad news?

The gains in the job market were modest, the researchers said, and 2011 graduates faced job prospects still much more limited than did graduates four years earlier.

On the salary front, too, there was good news and bad news for recent graduates. For the first time in five years, salaries rose for those leaving school with an undergraduate degree, with the average starting salary hitting $31,000. The down side? When adjusted for inflation, those grads still earned less than their peers did in 2006.

Even so, newly-employed J-school grads say they’re more satisfied with their work than any previous class, going back 25 years. How could that be? “I think it probably reflects that if you’ve got a job, you’re pretty happy with it,” says lead author Lee Becker.

Long term, however, the report paints a grim picture.

The U.S. economy to be sure is not producing salary growth except in select segments. The evidence is that journalism and mass communication clearly is not one of those growth segments. That cannot be good news for those contemplating careers in the communication occupations, for those who seek to educate them, or for the employers who will need the best and brightest to survive in what almost certainly will be an even more competitive environment.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.