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Study: 5-year jobs outlook promising for college grads in agriculture

Nevada News Group
According to the study, researchers project an average of 59,400 job openings annually from 2020-2025 for college graduates with interest and expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment. This figure breaks down that annual total by sub-sector.
Courtesy USDA/Purdue University

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University recently released a study showing strong job demand for new college graduates with degrees in agricultural programs.

College graduates can expect approximately 59,400 job opportunities annually between 2020 and 2025, according to a Dec. 9 press release from NIFA.

This reflects a 2.6% growth from the previous five years. Employer demand will exceed the supply of available graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture-related fields, the study says.



Compared with the previous five-year report published in 2015, the researchers project a decline in job openings in Management and Business (42% vs. 46%), and an increase in job opportunities for college graduates with expertise in Science and Engineering (31% vs. 27%) and in Education, Communication, and Government Services (14% vs. 12%).

The study states that employment opportunities in occupations related to food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment to grow 2.6% between 2020 and 2025 for college graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees.



The projections for demand of college graduates reported in this report are primarily based the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Projections of available college graduates are derived from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

The BLS forecasts a 5.2% increase in the U.S. labor force between 2018 and 2028 due to job growth and openings from retirement or other replacements. 

The report acknowledges the curve ball the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in the labor market, noting that while the study began in September 2019, “when global socio-economic conditions were much different from today … the average annual projections of employment opportunities and qualified graduates in this report are for a five-year span and developed in concert with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts for 2018-2028.”

However, the researchers anticipate that job opportunities in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment sector will remain steady and strong for graduates. 

“Future development of our complex global food system requires the brightest minds from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and disciplines working together to solve the challenges before us,” said Parag Chitnis, acting director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture in a press release.

“This report shows that students across America who are studying food, agriculture and related sciences to take on these challenges have made a sound career choice and will graduate into a strong and growing job market in the years ahead.”


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