2014 College Grads Get Diplomas, Not Jobs

Job market for young workers has failed to markedly improve since Obama’s reelection

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Graduating college seniors face a grim job market little improved since President Barack Obama’s reelection, and many say they are concerned about their future.

The effective unemployment rate, referred to as U-6, now stands at 15.6 percent for the youth, ages 18 to 29. U-6 adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work. That rate since 2012 has only improved slightly, from 16.4 percent.

The unemployment picture for others in this age group remains stubbornly high. For African Americans, the U-6 rate is at 23.6 percent, the rate for Hispanics stands at 16.2 percent and the rate for women is currently at 13.3 percent.

College seniors are frustrated by their inability to land a job.

Lauren Dwyer of Hampshire, Ill., who is graduating from Aurora University this week with a major in English Education, has yet to find a job. She said she has been looking since March.

“I applied to 50 jobs and have had no interviews,” Dwyer said. “It’s very competitive. I’ve been told there are roughly over 1,000 applications applying to teaching jobs every day.”

Dwyer has $25,000 in student loans she must start repaying in October. She says she will be living at home with her parents. “I knew it would take some effort, but I didn’t know it would be this difficult” to find a job, she said.

Justin Roth, of Lancaster, Pa., who is graduating from Lebanon Valley College, is in a similar position. Roth has landed an internship, which he said was not an easy task. While interning, he hopes to network for a full-time job. “I’m looking for a full-time job, and hopefully can get one from a client,” Roth said.

Like Dwyer, Roth said he will move back home and hopefully will move out on his own if he gets a full-time job.

“I haven’t heard of any friends getting full-time jobs,” Roth said. “Most of my friends have gotten internships.”

According to Generation Opportunity, 1.916 million young adults are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force. These young people have given up searching for work due to the lack of jobs.

“It’s very frustrating. Sometimes the official unemployment rate goes down because people stop looking and older people decide to retire. Young people can’t retire,” said Corie Whalen, spokesperson for Generation Opportunity.

Even more alarming is how many college graduates are stuck in positions that are unrelated to their field of study.

“Young people aren’t even using their college degrees in their work,” Whalen said. The latest data shows approximately 50 percent of young people are in that situation.

The struggle is not limited to college graduates.

Adele Coghlan, 18, of Chester, Pa., will be attending Westchester University in the fall and majoring in psychology. She has been looking for work to support herself and save for college. She has been unsuccessful.

“It’s really hard. I’m from a small town. The first day an ad goes up, the job is taken,” Coghlan said. She said the prospects for her future “really concerns me.”

“I do not want to be a boomerang,” Coghlan said, “I don’t want to return home when I am done with college.” But that is a distinct possibility, according to Coghlan. “That’s an issue for a lot of people. They want to be independent, but the job market is so tough right now.” Many of her friends, she said, are in the same situation as she is.

“My parents provide for me,” Coghlan said. “I feel bad about it. I have siblings and I should be able to support myself. I feel bad that I am taking away from my brothers,” Coghlan said.