Recent college grads finding few options, having to move back home

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - College graduation marks one of the last steps before students enter the working world. Despite economists forecasting a steady recovery, young people are finding fewer and fewer options, and they often end up right back where they started.

These days, economists have come to label young people as part of the "boomerang generation." They are much more likely to move back home with mom and dad, as they cope with a bleak job market, crippling student debt and an unemployment rate twice the national average. 
"If you offered me a Ferrari tomorrow and you offered me a job at the same time and you said you could only have one, I would pick the job," said Evan Barwick, a recent graduate from Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro. 
Like many college seniors, Barwick has shifted focus from his schoolwork to the job search. This electrical engineering major has already applied to at least 24 jobs, but he has yet to hear anything back. It's a much different reality than what he was told to expect upon graduation. 
"No matter what the unemployment is overall, engineers will be safe," Barwick said, "and you'll have someone waiting for you or you'll have some prospect, certainly."
Barwick will stay on campus a while longer conducting research for one of his engineering professors, but, unless he finds something more permanent soon, he plans to move back home.
"Not that I don't like my parents supporting me - I'm very gracious towards them for doing that," Barwick said. "I just want to be able to support myself."
Barwick's situation has become increasingly common. The troubled economic years since the Great Recession have led more and more to move back in with their parents for financial reasons. The Pew Research Center found that one in four of all young adults, ages 25 to 34, has done just that. 
"As a matter of fact, I've got one of our family members that's recently moved back into our household in that kind of situation as well," said Dr. Ed Rayburn, the associate director of the ASU Career Management Center. 
His personal experience aside, Rayburn says he has spoken to students daily contemplating a move back home. He suggests, however, that it might have been out of convenience in the past. 
"Three or four years ago, our students were pretty adamant about wanting to stay in this area," Rayburn explained. "I would say about 80 percent of our student population, when you would ask them or start to query them about their interests, they would say, 'I want to stay here in the area or at least in Arkansas.'"
Barwick, however, has cast a much wider net in his search, applying to jobs in several metropolitan areas out-of-state. 
"If I can find a job in Bono of all places, as remote as that may be, then I would take it because that's a job, and a job is better than no job," he said. 
He hopes to one day build or design the equipment he needs as a musician, but he realizes he may have to live at home in Poplar Bluff, Mo., a while before he gets his big break. 
"I don't care about anything else right now except for finding a job and getting a job," Barwick said, "because I know that my life isn't going to start until I get the job."
Barwick is hardly alone in his search for work. The Pew Research Center also found that just 54 percent of Americans, ages 18 to 24, currently have jobs. That's the lowest employment rate for this age group since the government began keeping track in 1948. 
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