How Coronavirus and the Recession will Affect College Grads


If you are currently in college or have recently graduated, it’s time to start thinking about the recession, a direct consequence of the coronavirus.

Here are the facts:

  • The US economy is down 17% since the news broke about COVID-19, aka Coronavirus.
  • Many companies are cancelling interviews or moving the process away from in-person to online.
  • Many entry level jobs have been replaced by automation since the 2008 recession.

How the 2008-2010 Recession Affected College Grads:

  • The impact on College grads between 2008-2010 can tell us a lot about what’s in store for the classes of 2020/2021 and recent grads.
  • People who studied Social Sciences had a 3% higher unemployment rate than those who studied Business. It’s likely that this trend will repeat itself.
Unemployment Rates by Major

Unemployment VS Underemployment

It’s important to understand the distinction between these two. In 2019, the unemployment rate for college grads was 3.9%. Of the graduates who WERE employed, 43% ended up accepting a position that didn’t require a college degree (ex. Barista, server, bartender)–AKA underemployment. Also note that after 5 years, 66% of those underemployed will STILL be underemployed.

The underemployment rate for 2020 will likely increase.
According to Forbes, “Their rate of unemployment will skyrocket and more people will be forced into low-level jobs to make ends meet. It will become increasingly impossible for some to pay back their debt. Others will struggle mightily with how to make monthly tuition payments, while also having to contend with rent, food, clothes, insurance and other life essentials.“

Underemployment's Long-Term Effects on the Careers of College Grads

Students and the Job Market Today

  • As mentioned earlier, many entry level jobs have been replaced by automation since the 2008 recession. However, since the recession, academia has done a very poor job of teaching students marketable skills that make them eligible candidates. The average 200-500 person company uses roughly 120+ different software/technology tools.  These technologies are often not taught in college/in the classroom. Therefore, students who have little to no internship experience find the job search process far more harrowing as they face a reality that they’re far less marketable and appealing to employers.
  • There are roughly 1.5 million formal internships offered each year (paid and unpaid) to the roughly 19.9 million students enrolled in college.  Most internships require some level of experience, major, and expressed/demonstrated interest, making landing an internship far more competitive these days than ever before.  On top of this, 65% of jobs require 1-3 years of experience making internships crucial.


Forecasting the COVID-19 Impact

  • During a recession, companies often go into self-preservation mode.  Any non-pressing hiring needs often get pushed off.  This impacts entry-level hiring as most students often don’t have the skills and experience to make an immediate impact and often require extensive training.  Therefore, it’s likely that entry-level hiring may decrease in 2020.
  • Companies have been cancelling interviews or switching everything to Zoom or Google Hangouts.
  • The underemployment rate will likely go up

What you can do to prepare:

  1. If you’re currently a senior in college and haven’t yet landed a job, DON’T WAIT TO APPLY. Get your resume ready and send out as many as you can ASAP. Get ahead before companies start initiating hiring freezes.
  2. If you need resume and cover letter writing help, reach out ASAP.  PathMatch can help you optimize your resume to increase the likelihood of landing interviews. Waiting until after graduation, the effects will be felt at a greater magnitude.
  3. Prep for video-based interviews.
  4. Make sure your resume is optimized to fit the role you’re applying to.

It's about to get real very quick for all students graduating college this year, and for recent grads who haven’t landed jobs yet. If you need help with resume optimization, interview preparation, career matching, or internship and job search, see how PathMatch can help you today.

Want all this help to fit in your pocket for on-the-go resources? Download our PathMatch app