It has become so fashionable to bash the value of an MBA that there must be a touch of schadenfreude in the accounts of once highly paid professionals sending out resumes for jobs paying half — or less — than what they previously earned.
Yet the situation is hardly as dire as many of the reports would have us believe. While it is true that demand for MBAs has declined, an analysis of online job postings by Wanted Analytics found the reduction in the last few months was only 3 percent over the year before. That’s far better than the alarming report last fall from Michigan State’s Collegiate Employment Research Center, which predicted MBA hiring would plummet 25 percent.
Curiously, the financial and insurance sector has increased its MBA hiring, albeit by a modest 2.5 percent. It was the collapse of the finance industry and the layoff of tens of thousands of workers that created a sudden surplus of MBA-degreed professionals.
Other sectors of the economy have absorbed many of these out-of-work MBAs. Right now, says Wanted, manufacturing employers are aggressively courting MBA holders, accounting for 16 percent of the online jobs with that degree requirement. Finance and insurance employers account for 10 percent of all MBA-required jobs.
Wanted’s analysis supports what the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance found when it surveyed business schools in January on MBA recruiting activity. “The strongest increase compared to last year was seen in the Financial Services industry,” said the Alliance in a report. The technology sector has also stepped up its recruiting of MBA students, with more than 60 percent of the business schools seeing an increase.
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And, reports the Alliance, a majority of schools say they are seeing more activity by mid-sized companies — those with fewer than 500 employees. Fewer than half say the same of the Fortune 500.
This shouldn’t be interpreted to mean there’s a sizable rebound in hiring of MBAs, at least not by the traditional sectors for these degree-holders. Financial institutions today are just as likely to hire an undergrad business major as an MBA for positions that a few years would have automatically required the graduate business degree. Overall hiring there is flat.