When the economy collapsed, many mid-valley residents elected to go back to school rather than be unemployed or underemployed. They believed that if they beefed up their resumes their chances of gainful employment would skyrocket. But as these new graduates re-enter the workforce, many are still having problems finding employment.
In a recent study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and The Workforce titled “Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment, and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal,” researches found unemployment for recent college graduates with a bachelor’s degree is still 8.9 percent.
Certain majors like architecture (13.9 percent) and humanities (11.1 percent) are even higher. Unemployment rates for recent graduates with at least a master’s degree are lower, but still generally around 6 percent. Below are two stories of recent graduates that are typical of the problem.
“Employers are receiving 100 to 300 applicants for a single job opening,” said Tara Hathaway, 32, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2008 and has been looking for work at nonprofits and local governments. “Most jobs that are offered start from minimum wage to $10 an hour. How is someone supposed to support oneself with such a low wage?”
Hathaway has been unemployed for more than a year, and even fell victim to an identity theft scam on Craigslist while applying for a job. “They posed as a temp agency called Volt Workforce Solutions. They got my social security number, driver’s license number and background information … it seemed legitimate; they had their own website and call center.” After so much adversity, Hathaway is beginning to feel hopeless. “Graduating when I did with the economic downfall has been very discouraging. Times are rough for everyone. I haven’t seen any economic recovery yet; things still seem to be getting worse.”
Thirty-year-old Meri Patterson graduated from Willamette University last spring with a masters degree in education after receiving her Bachelor of Arts in 2004, and has struggled to find employment.
“(My) first choice was obviously having a classroom of my own. Then I tried getting on sub lists. Then I opened it up to being an Instructional Assistant. Now I am looking to get licensed out of state and, I guess, relocate my family.”