'Right now in the US, you have 2 job openings for every person looking for work.'
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The world is really their oyster.
The class of 2022 is expected to enter what labor experts are calling the brightest job market for college graduates in recent history.
"This could not be a better time to be a college graduate," said Jim McCoy, senior vice president of talent solutions for Manpower Group. "Right now in the U.S. you have two job openings for every person looking for work."
The U.S. economy added 428,000 jobs in April and the unemployment now stands at 3.6 percent.
According to a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, U.S. employers are planning to hire 31 percent more college grads this year compared to 2021.
"Every sector in every region plans to add to staff and college graduates are going to be a key part of hiring across the United States," said McCoy.
College grads have a lot more leverage.
"This is a wonderful time to be able to negotiate," said McCoy. "In particular, there is much more availability around pay levels at different employers."
An abundance of jobs brings a shortage of workers. One job often taken on by college and high school students is lifeguarding. Right now, there is a nationwide shortage of lifeguards.
Many beaches and pools are supposed to open next Memorial Day weekend but some cities and park districts have not been able to hire enough people to safely open.
Chicago is offering bonuses in an effort to recruit lifeguards.
In Aurora, the Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center will be closed this summer because of staffing shortages.
Jaime Ijams is the Director of Recreation for the Fox Valley Park District, which operates Phillips Park.
Ijams said overall for the season the district needs 160 lifeguards to operate all three facilities. Currently, they've hired 74, so they're at 46 percent of their goal.
The shuttering of their facilities during the pandemic is just one of the reasons behind the lifeguard shortage.
"Our staff was having to work additional, long hours which was burning them out," Ijams said. "The job itself isn't that easy as it is. You have to be very attentive to the water at all times and the test itself hard to pass."
But the district is working hard to recruit by increasing the minimum wage and developing an employee referral program that pay an up to $170 bonus. The job also includes free training, uniforms and membership.
"It's rewarding, our staff often are put into some difficult situations. They have to think on their feet and problem solve and they get to save people's lives," Ijams said. "They build great teamwork and friendships throughout the summer."
The district is accepting applications from anyone 15 years old and up. Visit www.foxvalleyparkdistrict.org for more information.