Got Work?

As the economy stalls, college graduates are finding it difficult to find work

ByABC News
May 20, 2009, 2:39 PM

HARTFORD, Conn., May 20, 2009— -- Casey Savage graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a 3.8 grade-point average and honors. What he doesn't have is a job.

"I've talked to 24 different firms so far. Hedge funds, investment banks, private equity shops," Savage said. "And I just feel that there's limited opportunities at this point."

It's a familiar refrain being echoed at colleges and universities across the country, as the economy continues to slump and layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts dominate the employment landscape. The struggling economy means college seniors are facing one of the toughest job markets in years.

According to a survey from National Association of Colleges and Employers, the class of 2009 is leaving campus with fewer jobs in hand than their 2008 counterparts. The group's 2009 Student Survey found that just 19.7 percent of 2009 graduates who applied for a job actually have one.

In comparison, 51 percent of those graduating in 2007 and 26 percent of those graduating in 2008 who had applied for a job had one in hand by the time of graduation.

Economist say the members of this year's graduating class are also facing unique challenges not only because they are dueling against the growing ranks of unemployed for work, but because they are also facing a backlog created from last year's graduates who have yet to find fulltime employment.

Bryan Hopkins, a senior at the University of Florida, calls the situation frustrating. "You feel frustrated because you feel now that was it all worth it," he said. "In a perfect world, I would have walked right off the stage and into a fulltime job in my field, but I mean I have the degree now and I am still waiting."

Yale University School of Management professor Lisa Kahn said recent college graduates will suffer the long-term effects of this recession much more than their counterparts who graduated in boom times.

Departing seniors are "suffering from the recession like everyone else is, but the effects are going to stay with (them) for much longer," Kahn said.