Economy to continue to hurt job seekers

It’s too bad there is no single economic indicator that gives us a completely accurate insight in to how the economy is actually doing.

We hear the rumors and the horror stories about mass layoffs, but it takes a bit more research to understand how both the national and local economies are performing.

A pertinent economic problem, particularly for students entering the workforce, is the unemployment rate.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Illinois in December was 11.1 percent, 1.1 percent higher than December’s national unemployment rate.

This is up from Illinois’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate in December of 2008. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the nation’s unemployment rate will continue to rise until the middle of this year before beginning to fall again. The national unemployment rate will only be back down to about 10 percent again at the end of the year.

“It looks like it’s going to be longer than people expected and hoped for. (The unemployment rate) is probably not going to fall as rapidly as it has in past recessions,” said Fred Giertz, professor of economics. “It’s probably going to take several years to get back in the range we’re comfortable with: maybe four, five, or six percent.”

Some better news is that certain job markets are projected to grow rapidly. In particular, the health care industry is expected to grow quickly with eight of the top twenty fastest growing jobs found in that industry. Other fast-growing job markets are education and information technology.

According to Giertz, it is going to be difficult to enter the job market in the next couple of years. “It’s better to be a junior than a senior, he said. It will be better than now, but it’s still going to be challenging.”

Katie Flint, assistant director at the Career Center, echoes these sentiments. “It’s not something that we could sugarcoat. It’s a fact that a smaller percentage of seniors are going to have jobs coming out of college.”

The “Great Recession,” as some have come to call it, is technically over. A recession by definition is when the Gross Domestic Product has fallen for two consecutive periods. The third quarter of 2009 saw the GDP rise by 2.6 percent. Most experts cite the stimulus bill as the cause of this increase.

“The economy declined substantially in the end of 2007 through the first half of 2009,” said Giertz. “The bad news is that even though the economy is growing again, unemployment is very high, and it’s likely to stay high for a while.”

President Barack Obama’s decision to freeze discretionary spending in the federal budget indicates that economic concerns remain a relevant issue.

The Congressional Budget Office just revised their estimate of the cost of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed last year to $862 billion, $75 billion more than they had initially projected.

Although we’re certainly recovering, the recovery will be an arduous process with experts expecting the recovery from this recession to be quite a bit slower than those of the past.

“The main thing is going to be time,” Giertz said.