|By John Newsom, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
On Sundays, she tended bar at an Irish pub near her family home in northern
She worked Mondays on an unpaid internship at a public relations firm in
Three days a week, Haarmann wrote marketing content about educational toys for a
She worked nights and weekends at a clothing store, where she was paid
"My parents instilled in me that I should be working all the time," said Haarmann, who graduated from
That was Haarmann's introduction to the post-graduation economy of 2009. Her story is not unusual.
In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, members of the collegiate graduating class of 2009 found themselves in a scramble for jobs -- a scramble they hadn't foreseen when they started college four years earlier.
Some, like Haarmann, moved home and cobbled together a series of part-time jobs to hold them over until they found careers. Others took refuge in graduate school, got jobs far below where they had hoped to start or didn't work at all.
The summer of 2009 "was the bottom of the recession,"
"It was the worst job prospects of any graduating class for 50, 60, 70 years."
When the class of 2009 entered college in the fall of 2005, the economy was roaring along.
The national unemployment rate was down around 5 percent, which was close to full employment. Interest rates on 30-year home loans hovered at a very reasonable 6 percent. Inflation was nearly non-existent, gross domestic product surged by a healthy 3.1 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained about 10,000 for the entire year as it romped toward its eventual peak of 14,000.
But as college students across the county worked toward a graduation date of
The overheated U.S. housing bubble popped in 2007, and the banking, insurance and financial industries -- which traditionally hired legions of new college graduates -- deflated along with it.
The country's recession officially started in
The fallout was ugly.
Foreclosures soared, oil prices spiked and Americans stopped spending money. By spring break of 2009, the stock market had fallen below 7,000 -- less than half of what it had been a year and a half earlier.
Worse for the class of 2009, companies stopped hiring. By the time class members picked up their degrees, the nation's unemployment rate had hit 9 percent on its way to 10, and the American economy was well on its way to losing nearly 9 million jobs.