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Fast Pitch: See no future, pay no rent

November 30, 2010

You probably don’t need us to let you know it’s hard out there. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics reports (we know, you read them all the time, too) the national unemployment remains steadily at 9.6 percent despite the general economic consensus that things have, well, stopped getting worse.

Actually, 9.6 percent probably sounds pretty good to you. If 91.4 percent of you and your friends were employed, you might have been able to break yourselves off a steady diet of $5 footlongs by now. The harsh reality is that young people are bearing the worst of the country’s labor woes, with approximately 15 percent of 20-24 year olds and 27 percent of 16-19 year olds unable to find work. And those numbers don’t account for the vast legions of underemployed – people who have taken part-time work but still want to work full-time.

But the data does tell us some other things. Men have been hit harder than women, with their unemployment rate nearly two full percentage points higher. And, predictably, college grads face lower unemployment numbers than the general population.

With all the tough numbers, it’s not surprising that a lot of young people are applying to grad school,hoping to ride out the recession. But even a big investment like that isn’t the magic bullet. A recent forecast from the National Association of Business Economists predicts employment won’t reach pre-recession levels for another six years. And the only thing worse than being unemployed is being unemployed with a mountain of loans to pay.

There is some good news,by the way. Many businesses plan to raise salaries this year, and once you’re in the door, you’re a lot less likely to get laid off than you would have been last year or the year before. In other words, while businesses can’t afford to take chances on unfamiliar hires, they are showing a commitment to retaining their best prospects.

That’s what makes internships more important than ever: They’re the lowest-risk way for young workers to earn trust.

So what do you think? Will things turn around quicker? Are you bracing for doom? Are you committed to grabbing an internship, or are you considering heading back to school?

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