If only they knew that a stolen senior spring is the least of their problems. The Class of 2020 is falling through a massive hole in the U.S. social-safety net, into a financial downturn that could define their lives for decades to come.
Graduating seniors have lost on–campus jobs that got them through school. Many haven’t been working for long enough to qualify for full unemployment. If they’ve been listed as dependents on their parents’ taxes, they don’t get a stimulus check. They haven’t had time to build up significant savings.
“I’m not sure they’ve fully processed what 25% unemployment, disproportionately affecting younger Americans, will actually mean,” says John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. He recalls that during the last recession, the Class of 2009 scrambled to scoop up opportunities, “like a game of- -musical chairs.” The Class of 2020, by contrast, is essentially frozen in place by a pandemic that has trapped much of the nation inside their homes. “There almost are no opportunities in any sector,” Della Volpe says. “It’s like suspended animation.”
More than 1 in 5 employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in April said they were rescinding their summer internship offers. The overall number of postings on the online jobs platform ZipRecruiter have fallen by nearly half since mid-February, while new postings for entry-level positions have plummeted more than 75%, according to ZipRecruiter labor economist Julia Pollak. A year ago, less experienced job seekers were enjoying brisk wage growth and rosy job prospects. Now, Pollak says, “it’s particularly hard for new graduates.