Graduates Face Stiff Competition As They Enter Workforce

Matt Bigler
May 26, 2020 - 9:27 am

    Graduation season is in full swing, but many graduates are facing an uncertain future thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The April unemployment rate for young people hit 32%, the highest it has been since 1948. Many of the entry level jobs that normally hire young people for the summer or part-time are shut down at the moment.

    “Retail establishments, restaurants are exactly the places where we’ve seen most of the forced shutdowns or are reduced to operating at a limited capacity,” says Alicia Sasser Modestino, associate professor in the Department of Economics at Northeastern University.

    Many internships and fellowships have also been cancelled, and with unemployment skyrocketing, job seekers are facing tough competition.

    “For an employer, if you have a choice between an experienced adult worker versus an untested teenage worker, it’s kind of a no brainer who you’ll be hiring first,” says Dr. Modestino. “Usually young people are the first ones to be fired and the last ones to be hired.”

    “I’m technically graduating but it doesn’t feel like a graduation because there’s no ceremony, I don’t get to invite my family,” says UC Berkeley senior Sadia Khan. “The fellowships and stuff falling through doesn’t help because that itself takes away from what was expected after graduation.”

    History has shown that graduating into a recession can affect your career and earnings trajectory for years, even decades.