Opinion: More than half of new graduates can’t find good jobs



Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young is a senior philosophy major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

As the class of 2012 finishes classes and gets ready to wait in line to shake President Lefton’s hand on graduation day, more than half will get ready to wait in another line — the unemployment line.

According to recent data from the Associated Press, approximately 1.5 million of those with bachelor’s degrees under the age of 25 were jobless or underemployed in 2011. Underemployed basically means getting an engineering or biology degree only to end up as the sour cream gunner at Taco Bell.

If you are about to graduate, you have less than a 50 percent chance of getting an acceptable, normative job in your chosen career field. You have approximately a 25 percent chance of flipping burgers, waiting tables or bartending; and you have about a 25 percent chance of living in your parent’s basement, filling out job applications week after week, month after month with no job at all.

These unkind numbers are averaged across majors. If your major happens to be philosophy, anthropology or basically any major under the umbrella of humanities, then you are even less likely to find suitable work in your field (or at all).

I hate to sound so pessimistic, but graduating with nearly $60,000 in student loan debt only to face a brutally lopsided economy feels more like entering into indentured servitude than achieving a life-long goal.

Yet as I write this article, those in the top 1 percent have seen enormous gains, raises and increased livelihood. The stock market has rebounded. Banks and finance firms are making more money than before with almost no new regulation in place from the economic fallout of 2008. And yes, presidents of companies (and universities) get raise after raise, bonus after bonus.

Honestly, it makes me sick to think that we pay for Lester Lefton’s house to get cleaned by maids. Is this 18th Century England? I would feel ashamed to have someone else clean my house, let alone allow a cash-strapped university pay for it. But there is no shame in the greed game.

How can it be legitimized for an administrator to get compensated more than half a million dollars a year when professors are fighting for raises and incentives and students are being asked to pay more fees and higher tuition? We have an ethos of greed that permeates our culture at nearly every level, and we need to take notice.

I can’t believe the size of the socioeconomic abyss that exists between the administration and, well, everyone else. I read the entire page-long letter that many of Kent State’s faculty members wrote to Lefton two weeks ago.

Why is it that long-standing faculty members should have to resort to publically airing the administration’s dirty laundry to just get a portion of the rights and privileges that the administration has no problem affording themselves? Power and greed seem like inseparable concepts; wherever you find one, you will find the other.

I know the topic has strayed from unemployed and underemployed college grads, but I think they are inherently connected. The economy is oddly doing really well for rich people, but the majority of middle class and poor are strained more than ever. I don’t think you need an advanced degree in economics to see the connection.

As people who already have more than they need (yes, that includes a good portion of university administrators), continue to ask for more and refuse to SACRIFICE with the rest of us, the pool of leftover jobs, benefits and privileges will continue to dry up and stagnate at both the university and national levels.

Why does anyone need to make half a million dollars per year? I could understand that this may be justified in a booming economy where tuition is stable and people are likely to get good jobs, but our current disposition is far from that. And even then, it’s just greedy!

As taxes stay at record-low levels, and millionaires continue to own and control an ever-growing portion of our economy, what are you going to do?

At some point, people in this country will have to put down the game controller, turn off the television, log off of Facebook and take to the streets. Can we please have an American Spring now? Our population, on the whole, is way too comfortable with the scraps of unfettered capitalism, and we are way too complacent with waiting for top-down change.

So, as you walk off that stage next week and worry about your future, think about the massive economic inequality that exists right here on campus and what you can do to help derail it. Write the administration, and tell them what you think; write your representative; and get some friends together to protest. And most importantly, don’t give up! Nothing happens overnight (except the trashing of College Avenue).

It has been a pleasure writing for the Stater this last year, and I wish all the graduates luck with their future goals. If a sour cream gun and a protest sign are your only options after graduating, I hope you make the right choice.