Recent College Graduates (and Teens) Struggle with Unemployment

7 years ago
NORTH MIAMI, FL - MARCH 04: Glen Crawford (R) trys to entice people to take a job at his company as  hundreds of people look for jobs at the Miami Dade College Mega Job Fair 2009 on March 4, 2009 in North Miami, Florida. Job fairs are swamped with applicants as the economy continues to tank and many people find themselves unemployed. Analysts are looking to Friday's U.S. employment report for indications on how the economy is doing.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The economic downturn that started 2007 has caused job loss on scale unseen since the Great Depression. Even though the recession is technically over, the sluggish growth and incremental improvements in hiring has many worried about a double dip recession. Many of the unemployed are young people -- teenagers who are hunting for a summer job or a part-time gig to pay for college, college students who want a paid internship to launch them into a career, and recent college graduates who either can't land a job that requires a degree, or have been laid off and are now moving back home with Mom and Dad.

The number of unemployed young people (those between 16 and 24) has topped 50%. A September 2009 NY Post article reports that 53.4% of young Americans are not working, making it the highest level of unemployment since the end of World War II. Teenagers are especially struggling, competing for jobs that workers with more experience would have previously passed up.

Even a college degree is no longer a sure-fire ticket to a solid-paying career path. Take the case of Kyle Daly, a graduate from UCLA who applied to more than 600 positions, but only garnered two interviews. Daly now lives with his mom. Lizzie Williams, a graduate from the Michigan State University, is working as an unpaid intern while continuing to search for jobs. If nothing pans out in a few more months, Lizzie will look into graduate school. The LA Times reports that Kyle and Lizzie have plenty of company:

The National Assn. of Colleges and Employers won't have employment statistics for this year's graduates until early 2011, but it's almost certain to show a further sharp drop from last year's levels.

I have personally known several people that were laid off between 2007 and 2009. One friend spent 16 months out of a job. Fortunately, though, most of my friends seem to have found career-track jobs within the last several months, include the aforementioned friend. But my friend and I have at least had the benefit of having some experience -- even if it's just a year or two. Now newly-minted graduates must compete with workers with just a little bit more experience.

Speaking with the career counselors at my alma mater, I learned that recruiting has been drastically down for 2010. If I thought things couldn't get worse from 2009, I would be wrong. That's why they call unemployment a lagging indicator. Several bloggers in the personal finance space have also spoken candidly about their experience with unemployment. See Quarter Life Finances for an honest and thoughtful discussion on unemployment, career change, and motivation.

Have you seen the effects of unemployment on young people?

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