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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Economic Perspective from the 2009 Emory Graduating Class

This past weekend I attended my brother's college graduation at Emory University. I was not surprised to hear that many of his friends and colleagues were struggling to find jobs. I was however surprised to hear just how many. In his fraternity, only one third of those graduating had landed a job. He and his friends tell me that only about half the Emory graduates have found work.

What's important to keep in mind is that Emory is often referred to as the Ivy League of the South. This is a university with an outstanding reputation and furthermore, most of the students that go there come from families with plenty of connections. One graduate just bought a car parts business. Another created a formula for investing in stocks and convinced several Emory professors to help him create a hedge fund. Yet another used connections he made while studying in China through Emory to sell real estate there. So, you can see, these graduates had and used every advantage available to most graduates. In other words, if these folks are only hired at 50%, we can all only imagine what the average university is facing.

Even those that were fortunate enough to find work, are often left having to take something much less than they expected. Here is how the Journal described one such graduate.

Andrew Friedson graduated last year from the University of Maryland with a degree in government and politics and a stint as student-body president on his résumé. After working on Barack Obama's presidential campaign for a few months, Mr. Friedson hoped to get a position in the new administration. When that didn't pan out he looked for jobs on Capitol Hill. No luck there, either.

So now, instead of learning about policymaking and legislation, he's earning about $1,250 a month as a high-school tutor and a part-time fundraiser for Hillel, a Jewish campus organization. To save money, he's living with his parents.

For those who graduate during a recession, the effects on their earnings last years.
If asked a year ago whether he'd be tutoring now, Mr. Friedson says, "I would have laughed in your face."

Try to put this into perspective. We are currently at 8.9% unemployment. Starting at the end of this month, we will add somewhere north of one million people to the unemployment rolls. I don't know that anyone has factored in what the explosion in recently graduated unemployed workers will do to our economy, but it isn't good. It's also something to think about when people say that we are seeing signs of recovery.

1 comment:

Morselaux said...

There may be a silver lining... Mr. Friedson may be mugged by reality, taken down from his dangerously high horse, and perhaps relieved from his 0-botism, and become non-yuppie, productive member of society.