While the national unemployment rate continues to remain over 8 percent, the rate among young Americans creates problems for college graduates trying to find employment.
The unemployment rate among young Americans aged 18 to 29 is 12.7 percent, according to a release issued by Generation
Opportunity, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that informs young Americans on economic issues in the nation.
Due to the high national unemployment rate, businesses are reluctant to invest in entry-level jobs because there are more risks involved, Generation Opportunity President Paul T. Conway said.
Conway served as chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Labor under Secretary Elaine Chao, as chief of staff at the Office of
Personnel Management and as an agency chief at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
This problem is also seen at Penn State, where some graduates are struggling in finding jobs after graduation, said Jeff Garis, senior director of Career Services.
“We find that if you wait a good bit after graduation, like three to six months, that about 8 percent of Penn State graduates are still looking for employment,” he said.
However, Garis also said Penn State students are prepared when they come out of college and can be successful.
“We know that we have high quality graduates for job recruiters,” he said.
Conway said the economic collapse and recovery has been complicated because of the “unpredictable” policy environment under President Barack Obama and his administration, which strikes a problem for businesses. In order for businesses to grow, they need a predictable environment, he said.
According to the release, 89 percent of young people aged 18 to 29 said the current state of the economy is impacting their day-to-day lives, like driving less and reducing their entertainment budget.
The unstable economy also creates problems with recent college graduates looking for employment because older workers are now working longer instead of entering retirement, Conway said.
Businesses use their older workers by offering them less money instead of taking chances with younger workers, as there are more risks when hiring college graduates, Conway said.
Conway also cited a study done by Rutgers University in May 2012, which stated that only 51 percent of recent college graduates are employed full-time, and that only four out of 10 graduates reported that their job required a four-year degree.
In order to create a change in the current job market, Conway said the president’s policies need to be changed in order for more people to be employed.
However, Centre County’s Democratic Committee Chairman Greg Stewart said students have to look at the context of the recent unemployment rates.
“You have to remember where we’re coming from, when Obama first entered office in January of 2009,” he said. “Since he took office, job creation has been steady.”
Stewart said when looking at unemployment now, students need to remember that the country was worse off in 2008. He said if
Obama’s policies were not in place now, unemployment and job creation would be worse today.
Green technology, alternative energy and technological advances are just a few of the job investments the Obama administration created, he said.
The job market will play a key role in this year’s election, and Conway said he encourages students to vote for the person they think possesses the best policies.
Conway said individual power among young Americans could make a change in the current market.
“If you don’t like the status quo, you have the power to change it,” he said. “Register to vote and look at the facts. You have the power.”
In addition to voting, Conway said connecting to alumni networks as early as freshman year in college will help in the long run.
But Garis said at Penn State, students can prepare themselves for the job market through services that the university and career services offers.
“The best way to prevent [unemployment] is to develop thorough relationships with our office now,” he said. “If students do this, then they will have no reason to not be successful. They should be optimistic about employability.”
At career services, students can seek counseling, attend career days and engage in mock interviews, he said.
Conway said while in college, students should be taking advantage of as many opportunities as they can, including finding their own skill sets. These include part-time jobs and school activities that allow them to manage people, money and projects.
“People need to think of their specific skill set and collect activities based on that,” he said. “Students must be very focused on the applicability of what they’re studying in college. You need to ask yourself, ‘How am I going to be the solution to the person interviewing me?’ ”
Stewart said that when looking for jobs, students should remain positive about Obama’s policies. In the future, he said America needs a congress that will put job creation before politics.
“I encourage students to look at job creation history,” he said.
As for this generation, Conway feels that in a tough job market, graduates seeking jobs should not feel that it is their fault they are unemployed.
He also said this generation is hardworking and has proven that throughout the years, and changes can be made this coming November during the election.
“This generation is facing the impact of bad policies,” he said. “This generation is not lazy.”