Economic Lookout: New college grad, facing the recession

MinnEcon note: MinnEcon readers know we’ve been concerned about new college grads dealing with the Great Recession. They’re trying to get their lives and careers in gear but the economy’s a mess.

Roxanne Johnson is among them.

A source in MPR’s Public Insight Network, Johnson’s joined our Economic Lookouts project — Minnesotans sharing first-person accounts of the economy around them.

In her first post, she gives us a view on the challenges of looking for work and balancing life and the post-grad economy.

With financial aid, work study and some family help, she was able to graduate without an excessive school debt. But it’s been difficult to find work in her field.

Nationally, only about one in four 2010 college graduates who applied for work had a job waiting for them at graduation, surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers show. That’s better than the one in five who had a job in hand at the same time last year.

Check out Johnson’s post and add your thoughts below.

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Roxanne Johnson | Minneapolis

As a recent college graduate I have experienced the direct effects of the current recession. I am uneasy about my financial future. I was not able to secure a job in my field (I studied sociology) and am now working part-time at a Target store.

After being unemployed for two months I am happy to have a job and feel lucky since I know there are still so many people unemployed.

I believe — and hope — that I will be able to “get by” with this job and another part time job until I either find a full time job or continue my education. I plan to scrimp and save as much as possible, as I have to move out of my mom’s condo in October.

I think I’m going to apply for food stamps as well as Medical Assistance or Minnesota Care because most part-time jobs don’t offer health insurance.

I feel kind of guilty about applying for assistance because I have a college degree, but at the same time I am a low-income single adult.

My mom is willing to help me out a little with rent money or food. If I budget my money as best I can I hope I’ll be able to make rent, eat healthy food, pay my cell phone bill and try to save some money.

That’s my plan and it all sounds well and good until I remember I have to pay back my student loans!

I will have to start paying back my loans in a few months and I don’t think I’ll be able to make the payments. Deferment or delaying loan payments is an option but I don’t know the details or requirements yet. I will most likely apply for economic hardship on paper, but I’ll also be experiencing emotional hardship because of my financial situation.

I know I’m not the only college graduate in this predicament, which is encouraging. But it still doesn’t make the financial burden and worry any easier to bear. I try my best to have a positive attitude and remember that everything will work out, even if it’s not how I expected.

I know that I will continue to get up and go to work every day, keep a smile on my face, surround myself with positive people who make me laugh — and try to avoid the temptation to buy everything I see at Target.

Note: Roxanne Johnson photo by Bridget Schwegman

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