Graduating U.S. college seniors entering grim market
By Andrew Stern
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A college diploma has long been the ticket to a good job, but the deepest economic slump in decades has dampened the dreams of many U.S. college seniors.
They face a hard reality upon graduation this spring: stiff competition from the growing ranks of the unemployed, from those forced out of retirement or delaying it because of the collapsing stock market, and from graduates of past years who are still searching for jobs in their chosen field.
"You're graduating into this world and being thrown out of the college bubble and you're supposed to be able to get a job, which just doesn't exist," said Andrew Heber, 24, of Chicago, who graduated from New College in Florida in 2007.
The U.S. Census Bureau says 1.6 million college degrees will be awarded this year, a figure that has climbed steadily. Many depart school with expectations of making it on their own and with hopes of repaying student loans that average $22,500.
For seniors like Amanda Haimes at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, the drumbeat of bad news about the weak job market is worrying, even scary.
"People are saying this is the worst year to graduate, ever," she said in a telephone interview.
Haimes, 22, plans to move back home with her parents in Atlanta and will make $3,000 this summer as a political party canvasser. "After that, I'm not 100 percent positive" of her future, the sociology major said.
LOSING COVERAGE Continued...