Chicago’s Unemployment Rate Increases as Graduation Nears

With unemployment numbers continuing to rise, job prospects for the class of 2016 may seem daunting.

Unemployment rates in Chicago increased from 6.9 percent last year to 7.2 percent in 2016, according to data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

But Kathryn Jackson, director of Loyola’s Career Development Center, said these numbers reflect a growing population of job seekers and not necessarily fewer jobs. Jackson also said the higher degree a person has influences the likelihood of being hired.

“Once a person has completed a bachelor’s degree, they are statistically much less likely to become unemployed,” Jackson said. “Rates for unemployment [decrease] even more with people who have completed a master’s degree.”

There is a 2.6 percent unemployment rate among people 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent of those without a high school diploma, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jackson also said Loyola students have an overall higher employment rate than the national average, though she was unable to give exact numbers. Meanwhile, recent data from 2015 shows that for people 20 to 24 years old with a college education, the employment rate is 88.1 percent, according to National Center for Educational Statistics.

Still, some graduating students at Loyola are overwhelmed by such high unemployment rates. For Loyola senior Frances Roberts, a 22-year-old anthropology major, balancing the job search with a rigorous class load has been challenging.

“It’s rough because I don’t have the time to devote to finding a job,” said Roberts.

However, data from IDES has shown that while the unemployment rate has fluctuated in Chicago within the last five years, the overall trend suggests the unemployment rate will decrease over time.

Jackson said the Career Development Center is proactive in helping students.

“Our goal is to begin seeing students early, as early as their first year at Loyola, so that we have time to get everyone prepared for the job search — as being prepared for the job search is often the biggest concern we see and hear about,” Jackson said.

Gustavo Arreguin, a 22-year- old senior, said taking advantage of the resources at Loyola helped him, and he encourages other students to use the services offered.

“Use the university’s resources to the best of your ability,” said the Spanish and international studies double major. “I would encourage people to get internships, get volunteer opportunities, get involved with the community, with the city of Chicago, and use the resources that we have at the university.”

The services offered at the Career Development Center also benefited Molly Huntley, who graduated in 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in forensic science and biology. She said she found a job through RamblerLink for Guaranteed Rate selling mortgages shortly after graduating.

“RamblerLink made it very easy to apply for multiple jobs in one sitting. I would definitely recommend this resource to other students and alumni,” said the 22-year-old.

Amanda Keaney graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in operations management. For her, an internship with Discover Financial Services led to a career there. She emphasized the importance of networking and gaining experience as an undergraduate.

“Getting your foot in the door and gaining experience is really important … Any experience is good experience. I also can’t emphasize enough how important your network of relationships is … Who you know is just as important as what you know.”

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