Tough Times for Young Job Seekers

classifiedsMy roommate’s eyes stay fixed on the computer screen. He taps away at the keyboard, scrolling through job listings, and instinctively double-clicks with the mouse. Resumes with various headings, fonts and formats are scattered across the kitchen table. Is this familiar to anyone else?

I’m a twenty-two year-old college graduate. I dream of being an editor, or a writer for some trendy magazine. But I’m realistic -- I’d work a 9-to-5 job in public relations, something entry level. Maybe I’d bitch a little about the "real world," but at least I’d have something to bitch about … I’d be content.

The reality is that right now the economy sucks. Finding a job is difficult. This past summer 3 million youth -- people between the ages of 16 and 24 -- were unemployed. I don’t mean sitting by the pool in the summer sun, but actively looking for a job and unable to find work. It was the highest youth unemployment rate in over twenty years.

This time last year in the State of the Union speech Bush spoke about unemployment among youth. He stood behind a podium, no doubt with that mocking grin creeping along the edges of his lips, and advised thousands of soon-to-be-college graduates to volunteer and wait out the hardships of a deteriorating economy. Put all those years of university back into the community. Does he think that money grows on trees? Will volunteer work pay off student loans and rent and the electricity and phone bills? And what about youth who didn't go to college? Yet another example of how out of touch the Bush Administration is with the needs of working people today. Maybe the lucky few whose fathers give them steady connections to the upper echelons of society can volunteer to their hearts' content, but as for the rest of us, we'll be sending out our resumes.


"This past summer 3 million youth -- people between the ages of 16 and 24 -- were unemployed. '"

Since Bush voiced his opinion to the hopeful college graduates and their parents, who threw thousands of dollars into their children’s education, the job market has become increasingly more competitive. A few nights ago I discovered that not only is it hard to land a job in this cut-throat competitive job market, but it's just as hard to keep one. After months of searching and finally finding something, I settled into my first job only to be laid-off five months later. The struggle is constant, like a grueling match of tug of war. People are slimy; bosses set extremely high expectations; shifts are long and there aren't enough of them. And apparently against all these variables, if a wide smile isn’t plastered on your face at all times, someone that fakes it better swipes your job away without warning or second chances like an interception at the Super Bowl. And there you’re left, as I was, shocked, empty-handed and unemployed.

In this year’s State of the Union address Bush's policies regarding economic issues seem about as sound as a quick, first coat of paint: it looks okay from far away, but upon closer inspection there are all these streaks and holes. There are no original plans or policies to help the people in need of fast and effective change. If tax reduction does eventually have an effect on the lives of many poor and jobless people, its presence will not be seen for years. And what about the next generation that will inevitably face the same problem years from now when we sit and reminisce about our post-college days?
classifiedsOnce again our unstable economy is being pushed further out of balance by trickle-down economics -- a system that leaves unemployed young people at the bottom of the barrel. This year, at such a crucial time, Bush did not even mention the obstacles facing jobless youth. And as spring approaches -- the season of college graduations -- hundreds of thousands of young people are poised to flood the already overflowing job market.

In some countries the government informs young adults which jobs are in high demand, then pays for their education, and upon graduating from school they are qualified in a specified field. Imagine that, a job and lifestyle just handed over to you -- all you have to do is pass a test.

"It’s times like now I wish I was born in Germany," My 25-year-old roommate says as he twists away from his computer. He has been looking daily for a job for the last month. "At least they’re advised of what their country needs and can get jobs in related fields." We sit and discuss this for a few minutes, frustrated by the lack of jobs and even more so by the lack of attention the issue receives.

The sad thing is, as much as I would love to place blame and believe this could have all been prevented had someone advised me on my future plans, I know it wouldn’t have made a difference. I probably would have looked at them like they were crazy, been resentful and enrolled at the small liberal arts school to study creative writing anyway. So maybe the answer is not to decide someone's future fate for them, but I for one would not be opposed to a little dedication from Bush and his administration to stimulate an attainable solution for the many who struggle to hang on to a dwindling hope.

Kathryn O’Connor, 22, is an intern at AlterNet.org.

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