Friday, July 6, 2012

Bad Times for Young Graduates

The unemployment numbers are bad, but they're just numbers.

Real people are behind those numbers, of course, and for young college graduates, it's a terrible time to be starting a career.

The Jobless Class of 2012 tells the bleak story:

"The Class of 2012 may have few reasons to celebrate this year. Along with the long-term unemployed, experts say their prospects are the bleakest among all job-seekers.

The U.S. economy added a lower-than-expected 80,000 jobs last month, according to data Friday from the Labor Department.  Though the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2%, experts say this year’s 1.8 million college graduates have a rough job search ahead. “Over the last five years, the jobs situation has gotten increasingly intense for each successive graduating class,” says Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a non-profit think-tank based in Arlington, Va. “Their concern is now palpable.”

The last half-decade has not been good to graduates. Only a half of those who graduated since 2006 are now employed full time, according to a recent Rutger University survey.  More college graduates are settling for jobs that in years past would have gone to those without degrees, while people in their 30s are now occupying jobs once taken by recent graduates, says Carl Van Horn, professor of public policy and director of Rutgers’ John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.

But if all the young people who’ve already given up looking for jobs are included — the 1.7 million people aged 18-29 who’ve been out of work for more than a year — the latest 8.2% unemployment figure would be closer to 16.8% for that age group, Conway says. That’s the highest unemployment rate for that age group since World War II. “Their story is one of few opportunities, delayed dreams, and stalled careers,” he says. . . .

Some majors fared far better than others: Over half of those who were accounting, engineering, computer science, economics and business administration graduates received at least one offer.

But faced with competition from older workers, young professionals are accepting jobs for less money. College graduates who obtained their first job between 2009 and 2011 earned $27,000 a year or 10% less than those who entered the workforce in the two previous years, the Rutgers survey found. Van Horn says many of this year’s graduates lucky enough to find employment will be disappointed with their salary."

That's a tough story to read about our young people, for sure, but there are lots of tough stories out there. Meanwhile, we're knee deep in political posturing and our politicians are talking, talking, talking and then talking some more about what's being done to "save the middle class." It's all rather sickening.

Consider this gloomy perspective from Dreadful economy and a political standoff:

"The U.S. economy skidded into a soft patch in the spring, as job growth downshifted sharply from about 225,000 a month in the first three months of the year to just 75,000 over the past three months.

The difference is meaningful.
In the fall and winter, the economy was creating jobs at a pace fast enough to absorb the population growth and to bring down the unemployment rate. But at the current pace, job growth isn’t even keeping up with the population. Read our full news coverage of the anemic job growth in June.

We can come up with all sorts of reasons for the slower pace of growth: higher gasoline prices, a warm winter that shifted some hiring forward, the worries about euro land and our own fiscal cliff.

But whatever the causes, the outcome is dreadful. Far too many Americans are without work, far too many have given up.

The ranks of the unemployed are staggering: 12.7 million are officially classified as unemployed, and 5.4 million of those have been out of work for longer than six months. Additionally, 8.2 million people have a part-time job but want full-time work. And 2.5 million people are no longer counted as officially unemployed, because they’ve stopped looking even though they want to work.

Our policy makers say we must be patient, that the economy will heal itself if only given enough time. That might be acceptable if we could all put our lives on hold for a year or two or three. But life doesn’t pause.

We know what our economic problems are: Not enough demand to employ all of our resources fruitfully, too much debt, too much doubt, not enough income, not enough skills.

And our biggest economic problem is political. With an election rapidly approaching, nothing can be done. And time is running out." 

Summing Up

Maybe things are getting bad enough that our feckless political "leaders" will actually begin serious discussions about our debts, deficits, energy independence, taxes and so forth.

But don't hold your breath.

That would require some genuine "public servants" and grownups to take charge of the ongoing debacle, and that's not going to happen until after the election this November, and maybe not even then.

In any event, we must never give up hope but neither should we expect that the road we're on will lead to anyplace good.

Thanks. Bob.

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