Amid high unemployment numbers and a stalled stimulus package, UCLA lecturer Bob Samuels recently went with a delegation to Capitol Hill to talk about job prospects for college graduates.
While there, Samuels discussed with congressional leaders the possibility of a jobs program for recent graduates, unemployment and underemployment. Thousands of students leaving universities are encountering higher student debt and fewer job prospects, Samuels said.
“Tuition goes up, loans go up and there are fewer job opportunities for people up to 25,” said Samuels, who traveled to the capitol at the end of September with a delegation led by the Courage Campaign, a California-based advocacy group.
Samuels, president of the UC lecturer’s and librarian’s union, said past community service and teaching programs helped college graduates repay loans.
The conditions college graduates face are indicative of a national economic unease, said Edward Leamer, a UCLA professor of economics and the director of the Anderson Forecast.
President Barack Obama has proposed a jobs bill that includes payroll tax cuts, tax incentives for businesses that hire new employees, new spending in transportation, school improvement and an extension of unemployment benefits.
Yet, none of these measures are groundbreaking, as many items in the package are strategies that have already been employed, Leamer said.
“It’s all well meaning and I hope that it will have an impact, but these steep problems are not being addressed by any bills,” he said.
Both Samuels and Leamer said they think the prospects for the bill are grim. Not only has the bill faced stiff opposition from Republicans, but it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the economy and arguments in favor of the bill are weak, Leamer said.
As an alternative option, Samuels suggested a jobs initiative funded by the Federal Reserve, who has not yet collaborated on an employment bill.
While in Washington, Samuels spoke with a Republican senator who said his constituents were tired of big government and were worried that new taxes would hurt job growth.
Job market conditions appear to be slowly improving even without a boost from the government, said Gordon Klein, a lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
“Recent events and recent economic data suggest we are tentatively improving, albeit at too slow a rate for most people’s comfort,” Klein said.
Meanwhile, students are going further and further into debt with little opportunity for relief, Samuels said.
“The whole generation is going to be controlled by the debt they incurred in school,” he said.