State budget should promote jobs for students

Last Sunday, in an appearance on ABC, Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged that the Obama administration had initially “misread” the magnitude of the recession.

National unemployment rates are around 9.5 percent and throughout the spring and summer, the country has been losing over half a million jobs per month.

In spite of this, the impacts of the recession can feel very far away. But rising tuition and the narrowing job market for students and recent graduates shows that young people are just as impacted by the souring economy as more established workers, if not more so. Now is the time to demand action from state lawmakers on a budget that adequately funds education, and preserves jobs.

In June, the University’s Board of Trustees voted to approve a 2.6 percent increase in tuition for incoming freshmen this year. This increase comes on the heels of a 5 percent increase in room and board in January and a 9.5 percent increase in tuition that took effect with last year’s entering class. Spokespeople for the University have linked this year’s tuition increase with uncertainty in the state budget for higher education, which remains unresolved. For many students, higher college costs mean more debt that will jeopardize their financial future with the job market at its most uncertain. Students should lobby Governor Quinn and the Legislature to pass a budget that fulfills the state’s obligations to universities.

On top of rising tuition costs, students faced an increasingly challenging job market this summer. Teen unemployment reached 24 percent in June, the highest level since 1992. This week, Governor Pat Quinn called for 2,600 layoffs of state workers and 12 furlough days, and student workers, at the bottom of the seniority ladder, will likely be among those affected. Students should demand accountability from Governor Quinn on the impact of his budget on the labor market during difficult economic times.

Summer employment is a much-needed source of work experience for many students building resumes for their future careers. Over the next several years, recent graduates will still likely be competing with older, more experienced workers who have been forced to downsize, and tight economic conditions during their college years will put them at an extreme disadvantage.

According to a recent Yale study, young people who enter the job market for the first time during a recession suffer lower wages for as long as 15 years than peers who entered the job market during a boom. The recession’s impact on college students is undeniable, and will be felt for many years to come. Speak up and demand a budget that for the state that will help students entering the job market, not hinder them.