For the past five years I have been a full-time student, first receiving my B.A., then moving on to law school. With only two years left in law school and a serious amount of debt piling up, the thought of finding a job after I receive my J.D. is constantly on my mind. Unfortunately, the Labor Department has reported that times have never been harder on Americans my age.
To a college graduate from the class of 2009, the Labor Department’s studies are old news. I have seen friends in my own graduating class who have been forced to work low-paying jobs they are overqualified for. Many are working multiple part-time jobs or choosing to live with their parents while they search for an adequate source of income. The all-too-common news from friends is that they can’t find a job at all.
Meanwhile, recent undergraduates are flooding graduate schools in a desperate attempt to avoid entering the labor market in its current state. I personally felt a serious amount of pressure to apply to law schools due to the unemployment rates. Though many of us have found temporary shelter in the education system, the majority of young Americans have been forced to find a source of income.
According to the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rate reached 9.9% in April as 15.3 million Americans went without work. Unemployment rose from 9.7% in previous months as a result of a sharp increase in the labor market of 805,000 individuals in April alone. As the school year comes to a close, the youth of this country will begin their inevitable search for work, flooding the labor market with an enormous amount of new workers. Unfortunately, the latest reports paint a grim picture for these young Americans.
Businessweek recently reported that unemployment for American workers from ages 16-24 had risen to 19.6%. In other words, nearly 1 out of every 5 young Americans who are actively searching for work are left empty-handed at a rate close to twice that of the rest of the population.
Even recent college graduates aren’t immune to the dismal unemployment rating. In December, the Wall Street Journal wrote that of recent college students between the ages of 20 and 24, roughly 10.6% are unemployed. Though at an initial glance the numbers for unemployed college graduates don’t seem too terrible in comparison to the national rate, one must look further beyond the Labor Department statistics.
The Labor Department, which has been monitoring unemployment data since 1948, has never seen an unemployment rate of college graduates and young Americans quite this high before. Even students from the most elite universities in the country are having a hard time finding companies that are hiring. Though this year’s numbers have yet to be posted, only 33% of Harvard’s graduating class had accepted a job by commencement in 2009; a drop from 51% the year before. College recruiting at universities has dropped significantly, with numbers roughly 65% lower in schools in the fall semester of 2009. Further, as a result of the high unemployment rating, the average college debt for students has risen from $18,650 in 2004, to $23,200 in 2008. With the unemployment rate for recent college graduates that is significantly higher now than in 2008, the average debt for each student is likely to rise even more.
What’s to blame for such high unemployment rates? The mainstream media has focused on only part of the problem at hand. It is fairly obvious that the economic climate hasn’t been favorable to Americans, particularly those who are young and new to the labor market. Extraordinarily, the media has largely overlooked one of the most critical issues affecting the unemployment rates in this country: immigration. While more and more young Americans attempt to find jobs, Congress continues to import 1.5 million new foreign workers into the United States each year.
Though a great deal of attention has been paid to the low-skilled workers who enter the U.S., Congress has also been importing high-skilled workers who compete directly with students coming out of our colleges and universities. In addition, our government’s general refusal to enforce the laws already in place has resulted in at least 8 million illegal foreign workers who fight for many of the same jobs as the younger end of the labor market. The bottom line is that these immigration numbers are more than impractical; they are harmful, and they’re taking a terrible toll on the youth of this country.
GRANT NEWMAN is an intern with NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Oct 2nd 2017 @ 4:17pm EDT