The Harrowing Job Market

Over at Instapundit Glenn Reynolds writes:

YA THINK? Higher Education: The Next Asset Bubble? “45 percent of college graduates earn less than $15,000.” Can this be true?

Yes it can be true! My son is 25, graduated from a well-respected school, has additional certifications in a variety of areas and is a well-read autodidact to boot. He is currently working at what he hopes will be a temporary job where — even with “overtime” — he took home a whopping $1,000 last month. Real unemployment numbers for his age group were, last I read, around 24%, so he is happy to be working at all, and is not averse to checking out custodial jobs in school districts if it means steady work, decent pay and benefits, but those jobs are becoming like gold — your best bet to finding one is to either be connected, or already employed there in a temporary capacity.

Or, you know, you can wear a superhero cape!

Meanwhile, though he has the best intentions in the world, my son’s student loan payments fall on us, until he can finally afford to make them, and this is a reality being lived out in families throughout the nation. Right now he is living on rice and beans (“nutritious and cheap!”) and is earning just enough to, you know, gas up his clunker of a car in order to go to the job that pays just enough to keep him gassing up his clunker of a car to go to the job that pays just enough…etc…

The job-prospects are so bad, the pickings so slim and the competition so vast, that the job-hunt for people in his age group is depressing and demoralizing. No hope or change on their horizon.

But he recently had his first job interview in over six months, for an entry-level position, and he’s been called back for a second round. He knows better than to get his hopes up — he’s competing with more experienced people who are also desperate and will take less money than they are worth in order to be again-employed. Please pray for his intentions.

I wonder if we’ll ever again see the days of 4.7% unemployment and the record-high tax revenues we saw when everyone was working, and even the NY Times had to admit that jobs, equals tax revenues, equals paying down the deficit.

That was only back in 2006. Before the elections.

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  • DaveO

    Same situation here in Oklahoma: college graduates competing with teenagers and folks who are older, and should be well-established, for lowest wage jobs.

    Some blame the rise in minimum wage, and other folks blame the loss on the housing market and other causes of the recession.

    Bottom line is: if a unproven teenager, or college graduate is competing against a proven performer who’ll add value to the boss’s bottom line, sorry kid – the Army’s hiring.

  • Adrienne

    There was a dearth of jobs in the early 70′s when Boomers flooded the market with college graduates… joining the military isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t have to be the Army; it could be the US Coast Guard, the Air Force, Merchant Marines, Navy, etc. I joined the Army in the early 70′s due to the unemployment situation then and gained some experience, traveled the world, and got my act together in the 10 years I was there… There are so many other career fields out there such as air traffic control, public affairs, musician in a band, medical field, etc. Your choices are not limited to being a bullet catcher… and you certainly learn more and have many more responsibilities put on you than ANY entry-level job… There are plenty of intelligent and well-educated in the military. Unfortunately the uninformed view this choice as being something negative when it truly is not.

  • Barbara Peters

    I have a 23 year old daughter who graduated from a top college with honors and a 20 year old son who suffers from a learning disabiity and is working hard to get through college – last semester he made Dean’s List but this semester he overreached in his course work and is feeling overwhelmed and may not do well. My daughter is also unemployed – she worked for one year at a temporary job then was diagnosed with a tumor in her pancreas. She is well now and is back looking for work but has not met with any success. Both of my children are worried about their futures. I think we should all keep this generation in our prayers. So many of them are becoming discouraged. I pray constantly for my children – I will now also pray for your son. God’s Blessings on all our twenty somethings. Lord, give them their Daily Bread.

  • Mark L

    My middle son graduated from Texas A&M in December 2010 with a BS in Civil Engineering and a specialty in water resources management. He passed his E-I-T exam first try. Still has not found a job.

    Of the students in his department that graduated with him only two are now employed at engineering jobs.

    The only bright spot is that he has only $5000 in student loans and can pay that back with a minimum wage job.

  • Kris, in New England

    That was only back in 2006. Before the elections.

    How … inconvenient of you to mention that. :-)

    Seriously this is a horrible issue for all graduates these days. I do recall my husband being only one of 3 in his graduating class to graduate with a job – that was in 1982.

  • Mutnodjmet

    Is there any way your son can market his skills to form a home-based business or market himself as an independent contractor.

    My 24-year old step-daughter found a job after leaving UCLA — in China.

  • dry valleys

    Yes, let’s, as well as talking about unemployment, address underemployment such as is discussed by other contributors. Anyone who wanted to, for example, train to do environmental work (as I do) faces the fact that there are far fewer jobs than there are qualified candidates. So I think I’l be doing my job, for which I am overqualified, for a long time as I’d be jobless if I didn’t.

    I don’t think this is really a left-right issue because unemployment, particularly youth unemployment is high and set to remain so or get even higher under an impeccably right-wing neoliberal government in Britain and other rigt-wing countries. Germany, a social democratic country, fared relatively well during the recession (and there was no recession at all in Brazil, another social democratic country emerging from the sort of poverty our forefathers knew and which can certainly thank Lula for his achievements).

    Sorry to get waylaid, I am not trying to score points but I dispute your views on the merits and demerits of Obama’s style of government.

    A lot of friends of mine are unemployed. I count myself lucky to have had jobs of any form most of the time since graduating (I am 26) because I know people who have never worked. It is considered normal in this city ever since Thatcher.

    There is only one good thing about this situation. It is that people no longer vilify those who don’t have jobs. I do think that with unemployment and disability we are reaching a point where people can no longer airily denounce THEM because they know one of THEM or maybe are one of THEM themselves.

    My stint on welfare was one of the worst times of my life. You know why people do these grim jobs in warehouses or clothes shops or wherever? Because not having a job is worse, there simply isn’t this luxury welfare lifestyle that some people still think exists.

    An American correspondent of mine (this one a Democrat and a fairly like-minded person) is graduating from NYU in May and has got a job. What I noticed is that she never rested on her laurels after having got into an elite university, and worked/volunteered in all sorts of roles. But at the same time I would class her job as the sort of old-school salaried post which only a shrinking minority occupy in this day and age.

    The recession has thrown into focus a lot of long-term things that were ignored during the boom. I would classify regulating banks as the main, but there are things to deal with such as the ageing of society, especially as our boomer friends start clocking off and getting pensions. As a fairly staunch foe of Camoron and Ozzy Osborne, I actually did support their raising of the retirement age because it’s an uncomfortable but necessary adjustment given how long people now live. I’d support the efforts of Sarkozy in this, and it would be something for Obama to look at because this is not the early 20th century and things have changed from the days when the few who made it to retirement age would mostly die soon afterwards.

    You could always ignore the whole of the above and just read the comic “The Adventures of Unemployed Man”. I don’t know if your son would like it but I certainly did.

  • Marty

    With over 25 years of high tech sales experience, have been unable to land a job for 10 months and will soon be moving in with my son and daughter in law. Could be the inflexibility to relocate, but very flexible on compensation. Our youngest is a senior in college who hasn’t been able to find work in CA that aligns with his class schedule; in large part because he’s not fluent in spanish (he’s quite experienced prep cook!).

    It’s just tough out there right now; I’ve sure been praying much more lately!

  • Lydia

    I’m happy to know at least my husband and I aren’t alone. I’m an at-home mom with a B.A., but will soon be waiting tables as my husband, who holds a J.D., has been unable to find work for nearly a year. Even the local pedicab company has turned him down. Of course, the folks in charge are utterly clueless about how bad it actually is out here. And even if they had a clue, I doubt they’d care.

  • Dymphna

    We are 2 of the middle aged people out there competing with those just out of college. My husband now earns half of what he did and we have no insurance, with none on the horizon.

    Our son has a $10/hr. job and his fiancée works at a factory. We were happy they both found jobs at all. They are marrying this summer.

    I have a friend w/ 3 advanced degrees who has been unable to find work in any of her (3) fields.

    Those of us middle aged and older are beginning to panic because of our increasing health concerns and lower salaries/lack of insurance.

    If politicians don’t change some things, society will have to.

  • cathyf

    The housing market disaster is a big part of this, too. If people can’t sell their houses, then they can’t move to take a new job far away. And there is a multiplier effect — if the real estate bubble had never happened, and people could move, then where they went they would have jobs and be spending money, rather than eating rice and beans and scrimping on every dime. And the money that they would be spending would be a little part of making jobs around them.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch, and you can’t “help” people who are facing foreclosure without paying for it somewhere else.

  • Adrienne

    I won’t even begin to tel you all what it’s like to find employment where we live: Las Vegas, NV. There simply are NO jobs at this time that pay more than around minimum wage. And that’s just plain evil when the cost of living being so high here and just keeps rising…

    And if you are unfortunate enough to be in your 50′s and looking — good luck!! I’m in that category. Harry Reid, our Senator, worries about cowboy poetry, while his constituents worry about how they’re going to find a place to live, feed their families, find jobs, retire with $4 gas prices killing their social security income, etc.

    This isn’t a right- or left- wing thing. It’s about survival. Pray for all of us, young or older, who are facing this dilemma… sometimes the frustration is just so depressing…

  • madfolly

    What I’m trying to remember is a time when college graduates popped straight from school to a great, well-paying job. I graduated in 1985, good grades, good school, and I temp-ed for a few months, got an entry level job, and after a few years started making better money, and then finally good money. Same for my friends, even those who did grad school. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Experience and hard work combined with a degree is what gets you to the better paying jobs, not just a degree…

  • Barbara Peters

    I apologize if my post appears to minimize the difficulties faced by the unemployed of whatever age. Perhaps what we need is a national day of prayer for all those bearing the brunt of these difficult times. I will remember all the unemployed and underemployed in my prayers this week and on Divine Mercy Sunday.

  • Kay

    The annual National Day of Prayer is THursday, May 5 this year. Though I pray every day, through the day, this day is set aside to specifically repent and appeal to Heaven for our nation and I hope millions of us do just that. We also have two young adult sons, and wonder what just should be their next decisions for schooling, etc. God bless your sons, Anchoress, and all those young adults making their way in this difficult time.

  • Barbara

    I’ve heard predictions of tent camps this summer. Pray this does not happen.

    My husband gets asked every day when he will retire. He is 56, is eligible but we have a mortgage and his pension is only 60 percent. Those beneath him are all working with an ax over their heads. My daughter works at daycare, part time, her best chance of finding a job with her Masters of Education degree is someone’s else’s retirement as well, since every districts in the state is under a hiring freeze. Its a dog eat dog world out there right now.

    My boss sold his company in a hissy fit when he thought he might have to provide mandatory healthcare to his employees. The new owner downsized, I’m holding on to my job of twenty years by my fingertips. The men with young families practically snarl good morning at me every day. Every twenty something person I know lives with his parents and his woefully underemployed.

    Tax the rich. Their not doing anything with their money, might as well put the wealth of the nation to work

  • Sparki

    It hurts, doesn’t it? My husband, at 40, is just finishing up his teaching degree (third career, this one after recovering from a brain injury that he received when he was walking to work and was hit by an armored truck). The jr. and sr. high schools are desperate for male teachers, from what we hear, but word is the public schools in our small city and the next city over are having a hiring freeze. His student teaching job is at a small Catholic school, and they’ve invited him to apply. The pay will be right around $1,200 a month, for 9 months out of the year. Nothing over the summer, of course. He’s intelligent, kind, generous, loyal with a spotless work record, management experience.

  • Will

    I think all of our job and money are going overseas.

  • Barbara

    Conservative’s like to warn us that Obama wants to redistribute wealth. That horse has left the stable. The wealth of the nation is now firmly in the pockets of the top ten percent. And their vaulted trickle down theory has allowed them to urinate all over us because the success of their investments depend on getting rid of heavy overhead….employees. The holders of the nation’s wealth have figured out that they no longer need us to acrue further wealth. But they cut off their noses to spite their faces. Pendulums swing. The people’s only recourse will be an empowered goverment. Or the barricades.

  • Lisa

    “The people’s only recourse will be an empowered gover(n)ment. Or the barricades.”

    Calling for a revolution to bring about a dictatorship? NO THANKS.

    “Tax the rich. Their not doing anything with their money, might as well put the wealth of the nation to work”

    Class WAR is not the answer.
    You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

    In 1979 I waited several hours in a line wrapped around a city block for a chance at a minimum wage job at Friendly’s. I remember gas prices going through the roof, people syphoning gas from cars (that’s why there are locks on gas caps today!!!!) and the country was in a complete FUNK.

    The best case scenario for our country WAS a repeat of the Carter Administration. The MSM’s cover for Obama’s destructive agenda is making things much, much worse. There is a complete disconnect from what is happening in the lives of everyday Americans and what the press is reporting on. Anchoress, I will pray for your sons and all of America’s sons and daughters.

  • Barbara Peters

    Political or class warfare will not solve our problems – we must come together in a spirit of honest cooperation without finger pointing. The seventies and early 80′s were difficult economic times – I was a young adult during that time period. However, today’s situation is different. Thirty years ago, this country still had a solid base of manufacturing jobs and we were not competiting for our jobs with other countries. The past decade has seen a significant outsourcing of our economy. The jobs – both blue and white collar – are not here anymore. Whose policies created the problem is not relevant to solving the problem: we all stood by and let it happen. We are all responsible so let’s fix the problem together. Let’s start with prayer – nothing is impossible with God.

  • dry valleys

    We already have class warfare being waged by the ultra-wealthy and the politicians and journos who do their bidding. They fight for themselves and against the working man. That is the fact of the revolution of the 1980s.

  • Education Bubble??

    There is no education bubble, nor will there be one in the future. Yes, unemployment is high and it is difficult to find work at any age/education level.

    In the world as a whole, the countries with the higher education levels have higher employment levels and higher job creation. The US has lost its lead on education for people 25 and under. This time of high unemployment will give the youth (and older individuals returning to school) incentive to get educated in order to better themselves and the country as a whole.

    Do a Google search on countries and education levels. You will see all the countries with higher levels of education fairing this economy much better than those with lower levels. You will also find the countries with higher education levels are better set for the recovery (it will happen as we have seen in the recessions of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s).

    With your education bubble, are you implying the youth should not take on debt and go to school? If this is your point it is very short sighted and will ensure the US goes on a downward decline over time.

    This recession is no different than others in the past and the US will recover. You should encourage youth to go to school and in four years when they graduate the economy will be recovered and jobs available.

  • Lisa

    “We already have class warfare being waged by the ultra-wealthy and the politicians and journos who do their bidding.”

    Then we certainly don’t need “an empowered goverment” do we! WE VOTE for the politicians in office and WE PURCHASE the products of journalism (I pray I witness the end of the NYT). You may be powerless, but I am not. Your “working man” argument is a perpetration of class warfare. My next door neighbor is on the School Board, I work with people who are on city council, I am personal friends with a state legislator – we the people ARE the government and we have the Constitutional power to change things when things go wrong.

    Our country needs to return to it’s founding principals of a small, accountable government, with the rule of law for everyone; including Obama, his majesty, and his sycophant media whores. A government of the people, by the people, for the people; NOT a socialist oligarchy run by control freaks who want to pound us into thumb suckers.

    The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly
    is to fill the world with fools.
    – Herbert Spencer

  • cathyf

    If you take every single tax return which reported an AGI greater than $100,000 last year, and you tax every single dollar above $100,000 at 100% — you take it ALL — that gets you $900,000,000,000. Where are you going to get the other $700,000,000,000 of Obama’s deficit?

  • MaxedOutMama

    I feel for all the young people.

    I graduated in 1982. It was bad then, but it is really worse now, although the official stats don”t show it.

    People with families are happy to take jobs that were once relegated to teens, and any job at all that has benefits is considered a prize.

    These are the worst economic times of my lifetime.

  • Mary

    In my neck of the woods and career, there are lots of jobs. I’ve had no trouble at all applying for three a week, and I’ve had a number of interviews.

    Apparently, however, they get a lot of good candidates. sigh

  • fiestamom

    There is NO way that unemployment (as reported by the liberal media), is 10%. Real unemployment has to be closer to 15%. The media who reports this all have jobs, the people they report on, Washington DC, are living in a boomtown! Washington DC is the only place in America where home prices are going up. Car dealers are selling cars there.

    This is how Obama wants it.

  • Kathteach

    I have really loved the comments here. They all say one big thing….one great poem….certainly not to be written by me but it is here ……

    things have fallen apart and we do not really know how to put the pieces back together again.

    Humpty Dumpty.

    Chaos ala Cloven/Priven.

    Let’s hope we can all find a way that would honor best what our Lord has told us by his life on earth and death – this week -

    Find your talents and serve them up to God.

    It may just be as simple a formula as all that.

  • Barbara

    The investmant class has waged war on the rest of us for years. And they won.

  • fiestamom

    Well Barbara, if the investment class winning the “war” means that we have 4% unemployment, then let them win! Right now the government is “winning”, by confiscating more and more money from taxpayers, it’s growing bigger and bigger while private sector jobs are scarce.

    Anyone who has a 401k plan is in the investor class! I guess I’m “winning”, although it doesn’t feel like it. My husband owns his own business, (a one man shop-him), I drive a 11 y/o car, live in a modest home, but it’s not good enough for Uncle Sam. We found out on April 15th that we owe $3500 in Federal,and $3500 in state. If everyone had to file quarterly like we did, and actually send.the.check. 4 times a year it would be different! My democrat governor (installed in 08) proceeded to increase the budget by 1 billion dollars in 09. Yes, even though the economy was in the toilet. So yeah, I’m not real happy when people get on here and say it’s the investor class’ fault. Your previous boss sold his business b/c providing health care isn’t free. It’s not his responsibility to provide you with health insurance. it’s not enough for you that he provided you with a job? If I were your boss, I’d look out in the employee parking lot, and anyone with an Obama sticker would be let go first.

  • Barbara

    Do you control every individual decision on investments in your 401K? Whoever controls those decisions is the member of the investment class, you are just a provider of its funds. They want you to give them Mediocare/Medicaide and Social Security as well. So they can inflate more bubbles, insure against the implosion, gather up the pieces and crawl back into their gated enclaves.

    The goverment needs to tax the rich much higher. Period. Trickle down is a big fat lie.

  • Barbara

    Cont. to add….tax the rich, pay down the debt, free up the economy. Sounds like a plan!

  • Barbara

    And another thing! (this jumping in and out is probably very poor blog ettiquiette, sorry. I’ll stop after this) Years ago, excellent medical benefits for employees was common. Blue Cross/Blue Shield was the gold standard. Granted, the insurance was cheaper, but labor was in demand. Workers had a high economic value. Not so much anymore, productivity continues to spike upward, despite the Great Recession. What’s a human being to do when the market deems him superfluous? Uh oh, could this mean unfettered market forces are not the way to Utopia for the vast majority of humanity?

  • Lisa

    How to stifle economic growth:

    “The goverment needs to tax the rich much higher. Period. Trickle down is a big fat lie.”

    ….Except for when the “rich” business owners pass that tax right on down to you in price increases. Which in turn causes inflation, lessening your purchasing power and causes nationwide economic stagnation. The sin of greed is certainly not isolated to the rich.

  • Barbara

    Hey, shared sacrifice, right? I’ll willing to lower my standard of living if they want to increase prices. Its the least I can do to pay for healthcare for the old and poor. The sin of greed? Really? American fat cats are purring right now, waiting to get their paws on Medicare. Wake up!

  • Doc

    Holy Cow, Barbara, enough with the Marxist rhetoric. Is profit evil? Do you think private property and industry should be abolished and all should belong to the government (or the people, if you prefer)? You do understand that this has produced misery and murder wherever it’s been tried, right?

    How on earth will taxing the rich free up the economy and pay down the debt? Did you know that federal revenues doubled after Reagan slashed the top income tax rate from over 70% to 28%? Do you understand how that could happen? Or is it so inconceivable that you just don’t believe it?

  • Barbara

    Profit is not evil. Private property and industry should no be abolished. All should not belong to the government. And Obama is not a Kenyan socialist.

    We’re talking about repealing the Bush tax cuts, people! Maybe getting rid of a few loop holes. Perspective. Its a beautiful thing.

  • fiestamom

    Okay okay, Barbara. Obama’s not a Kenyan socialist, he’s just a socialist.

    But seriously, reading all the back and forth on this post is depressing. I wonder if America already is in a civil war? Maybe the shots haven’t been fired at Ft. Sumter, but how can we (different Americans) be so diametrically opposed? I’m sure you look at my postings, and think I’m hopeless deluded. I gotta tell ya, I look at your postings and I think you’re insane. I seriously wonder how we look out the window and see the same country.

    Depressing, either way.

  • Doc

    Well, Barbara, I’m glad your answer to the Marxist quiz questions were negative, although your previous posts read like your responses would be positive if you were consistent. Nice strawman, by the way, as I don’t see any hint anywhere here that anyone thinks Obama is Kenyan. He, along with the rest of the Democrat leadership (Pelosi, Frank, Conyers, Rangel, Boxer, etc…) are socialists in their policies, though they may still try to deceive the American electorate by denying this fact. The Bush tax cut led to economic growth. Economic growth leads to higher federal revenues. I would think you would be in favor of higher federal revenues.