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Loan debts have students facing relocation

Underemployment a factor in Cleveland State graduates leaving Cleveland

By Brian Mitchell

October 27, 2011

Maturating student loans and continued high unemployment may have many of Cleveland State’s future grads facing relocation and underemployment.

Underemployed workers are defined as those who possess specialized training and high skill levels but work in low-wage jobs unrelated to their area of expertise. A second factor used in determining underemployment figures is involuntary part-time workers.

A recent Gallup poll revealed about 18 percent of the U.S. population is underemployed. Nationwide, unemployment for people 24 and under is around 16 percent. In July of 2011, 16-24-year-olds made up roughly 59 percent of the total U.S. workforce, the lowest percentage ever. By comparison, in July of 1989, about 77 percent of the workforce consisted of 16-24-year-olds.

In Ohio, the jobless rate is around 9 percent, while underemployment is around 17 percent.

In Cuyahoga County, unemployment is at about 8 percent, while 17 percent are considered underemployed.

“These are just the official numbers, the actual numbers may be higher,” Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald said.

Nationwide, student loan debt in the U.S. is approximately $1 trillion. The cost of a four-year degree has risen 400 percent in the past 30 years. The average debt for recent graduates is $22,900, giving the class of 2011 the distinction of being most indebted class in U.S. history.

Many of the thousands of protestors in the Occupy Wall Street movement site student loans and lack of quality employment opportunities as their reasons for joining the demonstrations.

“The rise of education costs and subsequent increasing loan amounts are leading people to take any job after graduation,” said John B. Scanlan, assistant director of the Career Services Center at CSU.

Recent CSU graduate Lisa Gutschow is struggling to find a job related to her major.

“Just finding any employment is difficult. I have applied for a few jobs but haven’t heard anything yet,” Gutschow said. “With this economy, doing what you have to do to pay off your loans comes first, and doing what you want to do comes second.”

Gutschow said her biggest obstacle in gaining employment is her lack of experience.

“I couldn’t get an internship and every job seems to require some experience which I don’t have,” she said.

Mandi Asbury is back in school after being laid off from her teaching position with Cleveland Public Schools. Asbury has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Secondary Education from The University of Akron. She is enrolled in CSU’s Master of Literature program.

“I will not accept underemployment, that is why I came back to school after being laid off,” Asbury said.

Cassandra Cohara, a senior graduating in the spring, admitted she is worried about her ability to pay off her student loans.

“I might have to take a job that would make me underemployed to pay back my student loans,” Cohara said.

“Keeping up with your student loan payment keeps you out of trouble,” said Stephen Talbott, former deputy business editor at the Plain Dealer and author of “How Much Should I Borrow for College?”

“Students should learn as much about the job their interested in early on,” Talbott said. “Figure out what you will make your first year at that job and use that figure to decide how much in student loans you should get.”

The Bureau of Labor Statics website offers a salary forecast and job growth potential for many career options.

High local unemployment and underemployment are also forcing some students to consider relocating to find a job after graduation.

“I may have to move to Wisconsin, but only if I have to money to relocate,” said Cohara, who is looking to find a work as a proofreader.

Natalie Neiger, a CSU Honors Program student and Creative Writing major is not concerned over her student loan debt. However, she is planning on relocating to find a good job.

“You have to be realistic, and I understand that I might not get a job in my field. Things are not good in the print industry, and I am probably going to have to relocate,” Neiger said.

The CSC offers several programs to assist current and former students to find quality employment in the local area and nationwide.

“The greatest service we provide students is individual custom career advice,” Scanlan said. The CSC offers mock interviews, on-campus recruiting, career fairs, resume building, interview training and a myriad of other tools to help former and current CSU students find work.

“The biggest challenges facing graduates is learning how to find a job. Some people just put their resume onto Monster.com and wait,” Scanlan said.
He stressed that recent grads need to take an active role in their job search and networking is a key aspect of that search.

Within the Cleveland area, the Greater Cleveland Council and the Council of Smaller Enterprises offer networking opportunities during their meetings.

“Sometimes people overlook small businesses in their job search and they are a great place to find employment,” Scanlan said.

While finding a good job has become increasingly difficult, there are signs of improvement.

According to NACE, hiring is up around 13 percent for the class of 2011.
Locally, Monster.com ranked Cleveland the fifth best job market in the county and the CSU Fall Recruiting Fair drew more businesses looking to hire than in the past few years.

“Cleveland is still a good place to find a job. There are a lot of big companies in the area, but it takes effort on the part of the job seeker to get those jobs,” said Scanlan.
Scanlan also warned students not to take any job after graduation as one day you will have to explain the underemployment to prospective employers.

Students should register online with CSU Career Line to gain access to all the services offered at the CSC. CSU Career Services is located on the second floor of Rhodes West. Call 216-687-2233 for more information.

Student loan facts

The total amount of student loans taken out last year in the U.S. - $100 billion.

Individual student loan is up 47 percent in the past 10 years.

In the past 5 years total student loan debt has doubled.

Student loan delinquency rate, loans 90 days past due- 11.2 percent.

The cost of college doubles every nine years.

For a child born today, college costs will be more than three times current rates when the child graduates.