About the time America entered the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, this year’s seniors were just starting college.
Now unemployment remains around 8.2 percent, but assistant professor of economics Rob Catlett said there is still hope.
“Employment and unemployment tend to lag behind the rest of the economy,” he said. “Employers are reluctant to hire new workers after a recession because they are not sure when we are out of it.”
While the job market declines, the qualifications needed for the remaining jobs increases. Now students need masters and doctorates to compete for jobs that previously only required associates and bachelors degrees. They also must compete with experienced workers who lost jobs in the recession.
“One of the biggest advantages a college graduate has is that employers are looking for new ideas,” Catlett said. “Fresh, creative ideas are always an advantage. A student doesn’t need to know exactly what they want to do, but the worst thing they can tell an employer is ‘I don’t know.’”
With more school comes more costs. The average undergraduate owes about $25,000 dollars after graduation and generally only has more school and more debt to look forward to.
The Obama administration said that students should expect to see an increase in Stafford loan interest rates, which will double July 1, raising them to around 6.8 percent. If the tuition and budget committee’s proposal goes through, Emporia students can also expect a 6.5 percent tuition increase on top of that.
“I am going to play basketball as long as can,” said Antonio DiMaria, senior communication major. “I have already signed to an agent is Spain. Even if I don’t make a career out of it, I still want to stay involved with school and athletics… I feel Emporia is a good school and grads won’t have too hard of a time finding jobs.”
Students like Sarah Banta, senior physical education major, remain optimistic. She said Emporia has prepared her for a job in education.
“Emporia State is known throughout Kansas and nationally as a teachers college,” Banta said. “I think that gives me priority over others…. I don’t know what is going on in the economy too much because I don’t really watch the news, but I like to think we can improve.”
Catlett said after a financial crisis like the most recent one can take up to a decade for the job market to return to normal, but he also said it looks like improvement is in the forecast.