[QUOTE][B][U]Holding on to hope: Young and unemployed in America[/U][/B]
Editor's note: Rachel Witte took part in the iReport boot camp, a seven-week series where CNN journalists offered tips to iReporters on covering a story from start to finish. This is her final product. Witte's story is the first of several standout submissions to be published on CNN.com in the upcoming months.
(CNN) -- Bridget Coyle wants to be a social worker, but an underwhelming job market and devastating national unemployment rate are making it difficult. Despite this, she remains optimistic.
"I'm hopeful because I see a lot of opportunity (for me), and it's the only option I have," the 24-year-old college graduate said. "I don't want to be hopeless, because then I'll be stagnant. I need to keep hope in the back of my mind so that I don't stop moving forward."
For Coyle, the state of the job market did not always hit so close to home. After graduating in 2009 with an English degree from Saint Joseph's University, she spent a year helping disadvantaged youth in Baltimore through the AmeriCorps program.
"I had such a wonderful experience with AmeriCorps and I thought potential employers would see that and want to hire me right away," she said. "But that's not the case. It's not where we are right now."
Coyle is not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 9.1%. It is common for young people to make up a larger portion of this statistic because of their lack of work experience, said Emy Sok, an economist with the bureau.
These statistics are all too familiar to Carl Van Horn, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University, who studied this age group in a recent survey. His study polled college graduates as they entered the labor market and it helped paint a clear picture of the state of unemployment for America's young people. Half the 571 college graduates surveyed are working a job that did not require a bachelor's degree, while 14% are unemployed or are employed part-time and looking for full-time work. Three out of every four people polled said they would have done things differently while still in college.
"Many people said if they could go back they would do an internship, start looking for work before graduation, use the guidance center at college or pick a major where there are more jobs," said Cliff Zukin, a co-author of the study.
According to Van Horn, the results show that unemployment not only has called for reflection among this generation, but it also has had an emotional impact.
"Psychologists tell us that losing a job is the closest thing to losing a close friend, family member or spouse," Van Horn said. "In other words, being unemployed is a very significant psychological blow to the average person."
Despite the adversity those in this age group face, Van Horn said they have not given up on their abilities or turned the negative aspects of unemployment inward. They manage to stay hopeful.
"(Young people) don't blame themselves," Van Horn said. "There's evidence that shows this generation is more prepared and harder working than previous ones. More and more young people go to college to get a bachelor's degree or associate's degree than ever before. They're more grinders than slackers."
Neel Bhuta, who holds a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, has been unemployed for months. According to the National Association for Law Placement's Employment Report and Salary Survey issued in June, the employment rate for law school graduates is 87.6%, the lowest since 1996.
"When I started (law school) in 2008, the economy wasn't all that bad yet," Bhuta said. "The default track at school was to do your work well, graduate and make $100,000. School was supposed to be hard, but getting a job was easy. Now it seems like everything's hard."
Despite this, Bhuta still remains hopeful.
"Things are bound to get better," he said. "Young people just have to make sure they're staying sharp enough so that when things do eventually rebound, we're there to take full advantage of it."
For Coyle, it's her AmeriCorps experience that pushes her forward and inspires her to be optimistic. "Through AmeriCorps, I had the privilege of witnessing some very bright young men and women build on their strengths and take great steps toward positive change," she said.
Now she's making a change of her own by returning to school to pursue a master's degree in the field of social work. "I'm feeling very hopeful because I'm back in school," she said. "I feel good about my decision to pursue a master's degree program and am confident it will improve my chances in the job market." [/QUOTE]
[QUOTE][B][U]Double your salary in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota[/U][/B]
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Believe it or not, a place exists where companies are hiring like crazy, and you can make $15 an hour serving tacos, $25 an hour waiting tables and $80,000 a year driving trucks.
You just have to move to North Dakota. Specifically, to one of the tiny towns surrounding the oil-rich Bakken formation, estimated to hold anywhere between 4 billion and 24 billion barrels of oil.
Oil companies have only recently discovered ways to tap this reserve. And along with the manpower needed to extract the oil, the town is now scrambling to find workers to support the new rush of labor.
Watford City is at the center of the Bakken formation. While it is home to less than 3,000 permanent residents, there are about 6,500 people there right now, as job hunters relocate to seek out high-paying jobs.
Aaron Pelton, the owner of Outlaws Bar & Grill in Watford, said his sales have been nearly doubling every year -- and it's only getting busier. Servers at his restaurant make about $25 an hour when tips are factored in, and kitchen staff employees make around $15 an hour.
Surprise six-figure salaries
Vickie McMullen and her husband were living in one of the poorest cities in North Carolina, and they knew they needed to move to dig themselves out of debt. When they looked online earlier this year and saw the number of high-paying job opportunities in Williston, North Dakota -- less than 50 miles from Watford -- they knew it was the place to jumpstart their lives.
McMullen now works as a nanny in exchange for housing. Her husband, who worked on behavior management programs for a school system in North Carolina where he took home about $1,600 a month, found a job working in the oilfields where he makes that same amount of money in one week -- adding up to an annual salary of about $77,000.
"We want to be debt-free, so we came here to play catch-up," said McMullen. "But when I came here, I thought I was on Mars. It's just so crazy that the rest of the country has no jobs, and here's this one place that doesn't have enough people to fill all the jobs."
Where jobs are booming
With oil companies paying top dollar to the new onslaught of workers they need -- doling out average salaries of $70,000, and more than $100,000 including over-time -- other local businesses are boosting their pay to compete.
Entry level jobs everywhere from restaurants and grocery stores to convenience stores and local banks pay a minimum of $12 per hour, according to the McKenzie County Job Development Authority. Truck drivers make an average of $70,000 to $80,000 a year.
Taco John's, a Western fast-food chain, has increased its pay from $8.50 an hour to $15 an hour in Williston to hold on to its workers during its busiest shifts. It's also trying to keep pace with competitors, including the Subway and Hardee's down the street, said general manager Christie Smith. The Taco John's currently has more than 15 open positions and Smith said she has only turned down one applicant this year, "because he just looked too scruffy."
If a Taco John's employee refers a friend for a job, and that friend is hired and works there at least six weeks, the employee is given a $100 bonus, and the new employee gets $150.
Heather McLaren and her boyfriend came to Watford from Fargo about a year ago. She makes $10 an hour at a local gas station and convenience store, and her boyfriend works in farming and makes $15 an hour -- up from $9.75 an hour in Fargo.
The pay bump was even bigger for Nathan Pittman, who was thinking about retiring from the trucking company he owned in Indiana, but put his plans on hold when he heard about the boom.
Pittman quickly landed at a trucking company in Watford making $20 an hour with "a lot" of overtime. In all, his salary more than doubled to about $2,225 a week in Watford.
"You can make at least a thousand dollars a week more here than anywhere else in the country," he said.
Confessions of extreme penny pinchers
Pittman was so optimistic about the opportunities in the town that he is now helping struggling companies from other parts of the country set up shop in Watford.
"There's not a business you can start in North Dakota right now that wouldn't make it," said Pittman.
Gene Veeder, executive director of McKenzie County Job Development Authority, which includes Watford City, said he gets calls every day from developers wanting to start housing projects. But for now, good luck finding a place to live.
Among the inconveniences the boom has caused for locals -- including a higher cost of living, more traffic and higher turnover rates among businesses that lose employees to the oilfields -- there's a huge housing shortage.
"It's been absolutely crazy lately -- we just can't build fast enough," said Shawn Wenko, workplace development coordinator for the city of Williston. "We've probably seen 2,200 housing units come online this year, but we probably have demand for more than 5,000."
Why you can't find a job
Wenko said one-bedroom apartments can run at around $1,500 a month, while two to three bedroom apartments are often around $3,000. Local hotels and motels are at 100% occupancy. Some companies have cashed in on the low housing supply and have built more affordable workforce units, known as "man camps", which are basically clusters of dorm-style trailers that house workers.
If you're looking for some extra cash, you could really make a killing right now by bringing an RV to the Bakken area and renting it for $2,000 a month, Pittman said.
"If you were to come up right now, you would see campers stuffed in about every corner, people sleeping in their cars in the Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) parking lot and tents popping up here and there," said Wenko. "It's best to secure housing before you come here, or else you'll be staying in your car for a while too -- and North Dakota winters tend to get pretty cold."
You'll also need to be ready to get dirty. Pelton said he sees a line every morning at the public restroom full of people waiting to sponge-bathe themselves in the bathroom sinks. Pelton even had to put a lock on the bathroom in his own restaurant because so many people were sneaking in to "wash up". [/QUOTE]
I found these two article, both posted on CNN-afiliated sites today, to be VERY enlightening about our culture today.
Rather than move to find work, our young people feel society owes them a job in their chosen field, no matter what field it is, and instead of finding work where it is, this students course is to....go back for more education in the field she already cannot find a job in.
Is the problem the free market? Or is the problem a young who, unlike past generations, refuses to move or engage in what work IS available? Does society owe her a job as a social worker, or is she missing her opportunity by staying put and going back to school, when she could be working and productive elsewhere?
[QUOTE=quantum;4165198]I wonder what the IT field looks like in North Dakota....[/QUOTE]
LOL, I had the same thought! I wouldn't mind leaving NJ accept for the fact that my family is here. Funny thing is I have a job and I assume you do as well, yet we are thinking about other opportunities while the unemployed in the article are going back to school for more education to get a low paying social work job.
[QUOTE=Warfish;4165227]Not aimed at you, but I think Americans have become spoiled in regards to moving their families in times of need, or to persue employment.
My family moved me, and it may be the worst thing that ever happened to me tbh. It's how I left my beloved New York, and all my friends, behind.
I got over it. So will anyone else. Being unemployed when work exists elsewhere is not something someone should be proud of.[/QUOTE]
I completely agree which is why I made the comment about the fact that Quantum and I were willing to at least have a passing thought about moving when we have jobs versus the unemployed staying put and getting more useless "education". When I was young I joined the Air Force which obviously took me far from my family.
Once I had an potential great opportunity (that fell through) which would have forced a move to Atlanta. I was ready to go though my parents were not happy that the grandkids would be moving. It didn't happen so I have no idea how it would have turned out.
When it comes down to it I think you have to do everything in your power to provide for your family. Whether that constitues a long comute, moving, 2 jobs, whatever it takes.
Remember the furious demands in the wake of the Wall Street crisis that exorbitant executive exit pay be cut? Not happening. Even big-time loser executives are still reaping incredible windfalls. Take Léo Apotheker, bounced from the top of Hewlett-Packard after a year that saw company stock plummet. His punishment for a job poorly done? A deal worth $13.2 million in cash and stock severance, on top of a sign-on package worth about $10 million, reports the New York Times. Robert P. Kelly collected a mere $17.2 million in cash and stock options when he was booted last month as chief exec of Bank of New York Mellon.
Inflated compensation packages are galling enough, but "pay for failure" fortunes are particularly infuriating, grouse critics. “We repeatedly see companies’ assets go out the door to reward failure,” said Scott Zdrazil, the director of the labor-affiliated Longview investment fund. “Investors are frustrated that boards haven’t prevented such windfalls.” Part of the problem is that boards seek "super star" execs from outside the company who negotiate the most golden of parachutes. Democratic Texas congressman and senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee Lloyd Doggett blasted the practice. "The whole concept that the only way to get rid of bad management is to buy them off is fundamentally wrong,” he said.[/QUOTE]