August 24th, 2010

Unemployment has some looking to a Greener Economy


Three months after graduation from college and my friends and I could not be more removed from the college scene and our tight knit community at Boston University. Almost immediately, it seemed, after we took the cliché photos and said our goodbyes, reality sunk in. Our diploma was merely a piece of paper and it did not ensure that we would land a stellar job and get rich quick; it was not our ticket to freedom. The present American economy was not the standard economics lecture- easily mastered with the proper study guide- it was a whole new ball game. In order to succeed, you had to play the game; the problem was, there wasn’t much game left to play.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, youth unemployment currently sits at 19.1% nationally, while according a 2010 report by the College Board, 17% percent of graduates will have more than $30,000 in debt upon graduation. With these factors combined, many college graduates are unable to land their first job before their first loan payments are due.

CNBC Senior News Editor Patrick Allen reported in The Huffington Post this morning, August 12, that global youth unemployment has hit a record high in the wake of the financial crisis and is projected to get worse later this year, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). The report said that 81 million out of 630 million 15-24 year-olds were unemployed at the end of 2009, which is 7.8 million more than at the closure of 2007.

Reports like these are taken from complex data, but I know they must be true. I see the evidence all around me in Boston when I look at my peers, all recent graduates of prestigious university programs. Almost no one has work- at least not long term. A handful of girlfriends are living on Nantucket for the summer, waitressing and getting tan on the beach. Another friend is working as a street advertiser for an energy drink company, in the same position that she held during college. Others are just plain unemployed, having never found their “first job,” following their completion of university. The degree doesn’t matter much anymore and it’s very discouraging- instead of anticipating putting their new skills to good use, college graduates are begging for the most basic position for the sake of making any sort of income.

In his article, Allen hinted that “the world risks a crisis legacy of a ‘lost generation’ of young people” who drop out of the job market for good. What solution is there to this mounting problem for young people? Are we doomed to fail before we even begin?
One idea, supported by many environmental organizations, is a national transition to a clean energy economy, implemented through federal legislation. A clean energy economy is projected to create as many as 40,000 jobs in Massachusetts. Recently, Repower America has helped university graduates across the United States call upon their senators to help fill these positions by supporting a climate bill.  On Monday, August 9, students from across the state of MA submitted their resumes to Senator Scott Brown for employment consideration in a new clean energy economy.
With the cost of higher education and youth unemployment continuing to rise, more and more college students are graduating into high debt and low job prospects- what evolves into a sort of Catch 22. Young people have the most to lose from the climate crisis, but have the most to gain from a clean energy economy. Young people find hope in this clean energy option; and they want their senators to see it too.

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Catherine Moore

About Catherine Moore

Catherine Moore currently works in Development and Marketing for an education nonprofit in Boston called Associated Early Care and Education. Previously, she served as the Deputy Director of Communications for "Repower Massachusetts," a brand initiative that supports a national transition to clean energy, funded by The Alliance for Climate Protection based in Washington, D.C.
Please follow Catherine or email her at All opinions expressed are those of the author and not a connected affiliation.

  • James Byrne

    Catherine, couldn’t agree more with these sentiments, I am from Britain and graduated last year. We are having exactly the same issues, London Businesses School brought out some research a while ago that also suggest if a graduate starts their careers in a recession they will never earn as much as someone that begins in a boom. That said there is also evidence for increased numbers of start ups in recessions, in Clean Tech this is more difficult than internet based companies but it still surely has to be the way forward for aspiring young people with bright idealistic ideas.