Unemployment stubbornly high for young adults in SC - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Unemployment stubbornly high for young adults in SC

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Patrick Plunkett knows his criminal justice degree might not guarantee him a job at a law office when he graduates from the University of South Carolina in May.

"You can easily get laid off," said Plunkett.

Merritt Miller is still four years away from graduation, but she's worried about what the job market will hold for her when she's workforce-ready.

"I've always been that plan ahead type of person," said Miller. "I'm actually a nursing major, so I've been planning towards that for a while."

According to the Young Invincibles, both have cause for concerns. Right now, they claim young adults face an unemployment rate of 22.9 percent, which is more than double the state's overall average. 

It also takes a college graduate prepared for a job search 4 to 6 months to land a job on average.

The overall share of young South Carolinians with a job dropped from 61 percent in 2005 to 48 percent today.  It's why students like Emily Chavis chose a career in early education. If she can't teach, her degree may offer another way to work with kids.

"I don't necessarily have to teach. That's where I'd be happiest, but it's something I can adjust to fit somewhere else if necessary," said Chavis.

USC's Career Center believes you have to consider education above factoring in age.

"A bachelors degree or higher is a 3.8 unemployment rate versus less than a high school diploma is an 11 percent unemployment rate, so a vast difference based on education level," said Career Center Director Thomas Halasz.

Halasz says a degree and the college experience help students get along the way.

"Employers are looking very hard at the experiences a student's had and we're not just talking  a summer job or internship, but multiple internships or co-ops are very, very important to a student's success following their bachelors degree or even their graduate degrees as well," said Halasz.

Students get the message as two-thirds of them now have an internship.

"I think if you do internships and just try to get out there, because obviously there's going to be more people out there with more experience than you so they're not going to want to hire someone just starting off," said Miller.

Many companies start recruiting May graduates now, which is why seniors know they can't wait.

"I just tell everybody look now because you never know what could happen between now and May," said Plunkett.

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