Baby Boomers lived in a time where professional degrees were not necessarily more valuable than work experience, and their student loans did not overwhelm them into fits of anxiety. They raised happy families in the suburbs, and worked stable 9-5 jobs correlating with their college degrees. However, their financial gambling helped drive the country into a recession leaving the Baby Boomers with thirty-year-old children still living at home.
When college freshmen began their newly free lives away from their parents in 2004, they would have no idea that most would be burdened by the beginning of a recession in 2008. After four years of jungle juice and all-nighters cramming for finals, they collected their diplomas ready for the real world just when the job market declined them.
When they graduated in May 2008, the unemployment rate for college graduates was as low as 2.2%, which is hardly daunting. However, the rate doubled in just one year to 4.3% in May 2009. By 2010, only 27% of college graduates in the U.S. had stable jobs pertaining to their majors, and layoffs were a certain possibility for entry level jobs. The 2015 census recorded that one in three Millennials lived with their parents.
When 2008 graduates were laid off, or when they were unable to find work for a significant period of time, they lost the opportunity for work experience. Then, as the economy began to heal after the recession, employers looked for candidates fresh out of college and up to date on the latest material. This left the 2008 graduates jobless and inexperienced for their age.
As the economy was beginning its plummet, Division Vice President and Assistant Corporate Controller for Corning Incorporated, Kathleen Good, helped to coordinate layoffs and restructuring to keep the Fortune 500 company afloat. She told CMN about the recession’s effect on employee morale, “After the company barely survived the Telecom crash in 2001/2002, employees understood well that saving the institution was in the best interests of the company, the communities in which it operates and the employee population as a whole, and that it was necessary to trim headcount and costs in order to keep the institution healthy and away from bankruptcy. Regardless of that, it was tough to see your co-workers, friends and neighbors lose their jobs.”
While Corning Inc. certainly suffered during the recession, with loyalty and hard work from employees, the number of employees went from 25,000 in 2008 to 40,000 in 2018. Good reported that upwards of 6,000 jobs are open today, and she stated that “morale is strong and there is a high degree of confidence in the company management from the employee population and Wall Street.” The company has safely recovered from the recession, however those 2008 graduates, surely were set back by the layoffs regardless of the company’s efforts to support as many employees as possible.
In a 2014 Tedx talk about the 2008 financial crisis, Brian S. Wesbury explained that the recession was caused by a myriad of circumstances including the low federal interest rates that caused people, banks, and businesses to make risky financial decisions. Many factors led to the failing economy, and when the government tried to save it, the United States’ financial state continued to diminish. It was not until Congressman Barney Frank came forward and pushed for a change in the accounting rule in 2009 that the economy pivoted toward remission. Wesbury closed his talk on an optimistic note, “Have faith that the free market actually works.”
The free market made a significant turn around for college graduates today as they seem to have little trouble finding their dream jobs just after graduation. The University of Kentucky class of 2018 graduate, Mercedes Maness, 22, revealed that the secret to having her dream job fall in her lap directly after graduation was making connections and being persistent with her intentions. Maness majored in Community Leadership and Development through the UK College of Agriculture and she added an Agricultural Economics minor during her sophomore year.
Coming to UK, she knew that she was interested in youth engagement and hospitals under the umbrella of community development. She had a goal, found a few connections to tell her how to get there, and it was a connection that landed her a student internship with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. During her senior year at UK, they offered her a full time position to start just after graduation.
Maness is certainly not the only lucky 2018 graduate coming out of college with her dream job. She told CMN that many of her friends have been successful in finding jobs whether they majored in communications, education or accounting. Maness persists, “Graduates from the class of 2018 are more than capable of finding a job in today’s economy. They just need to put forth the effort to build their social capital and have a plan for success.”
Regardless of what is ahead in 2019, with persistence and a little faith, future college graduates will have a fighting chance against the legacy of the Baby Boomer generation.
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