Job market scary for grads

By By John Stafford

By John Stafford

Things are looking bleaker than ever on Main Street, and it has nothing to do with the City Creek Center construction project.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Utah’s unemployment rose again last month to 6.2 percent. By the recession’s one-year anniversary in September, the state’s economy had lost more than 51,500 jobs, according to the Department of Workforce Services.

The good news is that Utah’s unemployment rate is significantly less than the national average, which just cracked the 10 percent mark in October. However, as the state continues to lose jobs, it almost seems like it’s showcasing the least severe part of a gangrene infection.

For recent college graduates, the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem to be getting any brighter since hiring continues to slide for the class of 2010.

Employers expect to hire 7 percent fewer graduates than they did in 2008-20098212;not exactly boom years in terms of employment8212;according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Additionally, the average starting salary of the class of 2009 is 1.2 percent less than the class of 2008. Of course, if you’ve already started to search for a post-graduation career, you don’t need these statistics to tell you that the job market is unfavorable and seemingly hopeless.

This is why the rhetoric of Ben Bernanke, who replaced the now-disgraced Alan Greenspan as head of the Federal Reserve, is so frustrating. In September, Bernanke spoke of seeing “green shoots” in the economy and even had the audacity to claim that the recession was over. Wow, that must be a real nice view from his office: nothing but blue skies ahead and not a single unemployment line in sight. But, of course, pursuing unsubstantiated optimism is part of Bernake’s job description. Anything to get people back out there to spend, spend, spend.

I suppose, in a convoluted way, though, that Bernanke has a point. According to the Department of Commerce, consumers are showing some signs of resuscitated spending as retail sales climbed to 2.7 percent shortly before Bernanke’s declaration. The resilient alcohol industry could have played a part in the steady rise of alcohol sales in the recession. According to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, liquor sales are up $600,000 from last year and $12 million from 2006, and national sales are up as well.

Perhaps more people are drinking in an attempt to drown the sorrows caused by unemployment, underemployment and a seemingly oblivious and obviously out-of-touch Federal Reserve chairman.

Bernanke needs to be brought back down to earth so he can take a look around the wasteland that is Main Street. Maybe then he could see that we’re more than numbers on a retail sales report by the Department of Commerce8212;more than a green arrow next to a minute percentage increase under the headline “third quarter.” If he could only see that behind every lost job, there’s a tired and worried face, behind the multitude of foreclosure signs is a house that used to be a home. Maybe then he would realize that the recession doesn’t end when Wall Street makes a recovery. It ends when the American people, who bailed out everyone deemed too big to fail, begin to recover.

President Barack Obama needs to comprehend that even though his campaign was largely funded by everyone’s favorite Wall Street bankers8212;Goldman Sachs gave $994,795, JP Morgan gave $695,132, and Citigroup gave $701,290, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsible Politics8212;it was we, the people, who elected him into office.

If the unemployment rate continues to rise, he’s setting himself up to be a one-term president in the mold of Jimmy Carter.

For the time being, I’ll continue to send out countless résumés and hope for the best as I walk the plank toward fall graduation and that dark, frothy sea that is the real world.

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