Is the recession really over?

The National Bureau of Economic Research announced last week that the recession ended a year ago. The news has not alleviated the unemployment problem facing many students at Liberty.

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “unemployed” as someone who is available to work but does not have a job, despite actively searching for at least a month. The bureau’s latest numbers show that 12.8 percent of full time college students are unemployed. The general unemployment rate here in Lynchburg is 8.0 — among the highest in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Compounding the local problem is that many students were not able to find work over the summer. Senior Gary Ashby Jr., head of the Entrepreneur Club and a member of Liberty’s American Marketing Association case competition team, could not find a job back home in Michigan and is now struggling to pay bills.

“My dad had to pay for me to come back down here, because I was never able to find a job,” he said.

Hiring managers from local stores said they were not really looking for students. According to them, students do not have very open schedules, often cannot work mornings, and usually leave for Thanksgiving and Christmas — critical times for most businesses. These limitations are serious drawbacks for potential employees.

“You need to be able to tell a company why they should hire you,” Ashby said. “Now it’s not about how the company needs you, it’s about what you are going to bring to the table for that company.”

Former Liberty student Jesse Knowles is a Lynchburg resident who is actively searching for employment. After finances forced him to leave school as a sophomore, he is struggling to come back.

“I have just enough money to pay for two more years of school, but I literally cannot go past that point,” he said. “I have absolutely no room for error.”

Some students have decided to take matters into their own hands.

If they cannot find a job, why not create one? Ashby said that he is starting his own company and that job creation was part of his decision.

“That’s one reason I decided to start my own company—because it’s needed,” he said. “We need more startups whether the government’s small business friendly or not.”

Ashby has big aspirations for his company, Kaleo. He intends to start with advertising and design before eventually branching out into a number of different fields. His website explains some of his ideas and the logos for future divisions.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the “trough” of the recession was June 2009, and the economy has been on the mend ever since. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment has been steadily dropping, and student jobs have been on the rise. With more people like Gary Ashby Jr. taking risks and starting businesses, perhaps students will soon have an easier time getting hired and find school bills less daunting.

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