So you’ve got your college education and now you’re stepping out into the real world.
Well try this frustrating statistic on for size…
A recent Pew Research Center study found almost 40% of 18 to 29 year-old Americans have been unemployed or underemployed in the last three years.
An article I just read on CNNMoney.com talked to two people in their early to mid twenties who’d both been laid off twice since graduation.
Many of us were brought up to believe that if you get an education, land a job, and work hard at it – you shouldn’t have to worry about finding yourself on the unemployment line.
The truth is…it’s getting harder and harder just to get your foot in the door.
The youth unemployment crisis stretches beyond America. It’s a global epidemic. More than 80 million young people around the world can’t find work and even more are underemployed. But for this post – we’ll focus on the problem here in the good old U.S.A.
The current national unemployment rate is at 9.8%. But for Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 (many of them recent college grads) it’s closer to 16%.
Add to that – the fact that many of these people must start writing checks to pay back a mountain of student loan debt.
CNNMoney.com spoke with 25 year-old Sarah Maese who’s been laid off twice since graduating from New York’s School of Visual Arts. Now she has $132,000 in student loans to repay and she’s trying to scrape by with freelancing gigs.
“It’s awful because it’s like I have to put the whole rest of my life on hold, I can’t move, I can’t plan for my future because I don’t know what my financial situation is going to be,” Maese said.
Is it any wonder that so many young Americans are moving back in with Mom and Dad?
Generation Y gets a lot of flack for being dependent on parents, having a sense of entitlement in the workplace, and struggling with finances. But maybe it’s time to cut these people a little slack.
Baby Boomers and Gen Xers may have to deal with overachieving tech-savvy Gen Y kids, but Generation Y has Generation Z (or the Net Generation) biting at their heels while singing tunes from High School Musical 3.
Generation Z came out of the womb Tweeting on a smart phone. Gen Y is in as much danger of falling behind on technological advances as anyone else – especially at the speed things are changing.
What may the scariest thing for Generation Y is this – the tough job market caused by the economy could mean many of them earn a lower income over their lifetimes.
The twenties are supposed to be the part of your life where you build your career. That’s tough to do if you’re stuck in the basement looking at the same work from home scam online that you saw the past three days in a row.
Three Suggestions for Unemployed Young People
These suggestions could just as well work for someone who’s unemployed at any age. But they make the most sense for recent college grads.
1. Lower Your Standards Just a Bit
Sometimes the best thing you can do is get back up on that horse!
A lot of people look at stuff they think they are overqualified for and brush it off, thinking something better will come along. That might be okay at the beginning of your job search, but if you’ve gone a few months without any potential employers taking the bait, it’s time to consider other options.
If you wait too long, you could start to lose important job skills, fall behind on technology, and look less attractive to employers.
I was unemployed for 9 months before I took a part-time job at a newspaper for less than I wanted.
What you have to realize is that in many cases, you can still collect a partial unemployment insurance check if you are still underemployed. The only catch is that you’ll obviously be required to continue your job search.
2. Consider Starting Your Own Business
Now is the best time in life to take a risk. Why not take a shot at becoming an entrepreneur?
Scott Gerber of the Young Entrepreneur Council wrote on BusinessInsider.com about how he believes it may actually be less risky to start your own company in this economy than to work for someone else. Here’s what he had to say:
How much longer are we going to pretend that jobs are going to miraculously appear out of thin air? How much longer are we going to disillusion ourselves into believing that globalization, recession, automation and the over-abundance of educational institutions haven’t forever changed our world?Are they (young people) not taking a risk with their financial futures every time they decide to spend more time, energy and resources on trying to fight their way into a system where they have absolutely no control or ownership?
Many of the bright new ideas and successful startups in this nation came from young people. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. He was just named Time Magazines Person of the Year.
Find friends and former classmates that you work well with. Put together your dream team and make something happen!
3. Learn How to Keep Track of Your Finances
If you’re unemployed and searching for a job, it’s more important than ever to learn about managing your personal finances.
Learning to budget is a skill you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life. There are a lot of online tools like Mint.com that can help you stay on top of things.
Even though they seem old fashioned, personal checks and a check register are a great way to keep your finances organized offline!
Those who learn to live below their means will stay out of debt and be prepared if they unexpectedly find themselves unemployed.
That means learning to be content with a little less, and saving up for what you want instead of borrowing. Living like this in our society is much easier said than done – but if you can manage – you’ll live a happy life no matter what your income may be.
Kasey Steinbrinck provides useful advice on personal finances and news about the economy on behalf of Check Advantage. The online check printer is always adding new checks to its collection of personal checks online.