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Even More Uncertainty Faces Young And Unemployed


As NPR's Serri Graslie reports, it's a tough job market for young people, too.

SERRI GRASLIE: Madison Cox dreamed of a great life as a hair stylist.

SIMON: I thought, you know, I'm going to find this really nice salon and - you know - I'm going to be able to buy a new car, and all this kind of stuff. And that is totally not what happens.

GRASLIE: But Cox had a hard time finding one that worked for her. Most are full time, and they don't pay. But Cox is 24 and a single mom. She had her son, Sam, when she was 16, and says she can't afford to work for free.

SIMON: A lot of people who don't have kiddos, you know, that's OK for them, and they have the time to do that. But I have to be very selective.

GRASLIE: Cox knows that without her son, things might be easier. She'd be able to crash on couches, or get a roommate. But now, her routine has to center around Sam. She says it's important that he doesn't see her struggle.

SIMON: It's all about your game face. I think a lot of it is, I pretend like everything is OK.

GRASLIE: Looking back, Cox admits she was naive.

SIMON: I think I aimed too high, and my expectations were unrealistic. It's disappointing, you know, knowing that all these dreams that I had were kind of silly.

GRASLIE: Mandi Jacobs was smart enough to know that her bachelor's degree in sociology wasn't going to bring in the big bucks. So she went back to school. But not grad school - community college.

SIMON: I did get a few odd looks.

GRASLIE: Jacobs is 26 now and two years ago, she thought her ticket was health care. Everyone, and everything, said it would be in high demand as the baby boomers aged. So she got an associate's degree in radiation therapy from a school in Indiana. By graduation, she had defined skills, and hours of on-the- job experience.

SIMON: I thought I was great on paper. I thought I was good to go.

GRASLIE: She applied all over the country but could hardly land an interview. When a few of her classmates got jobs, she was puzzled.

SIMON: I'm happy for them. I'm glad they got jobs, because we all deserve one. But it was - a little twinge of jealousy.

GRASLIE: Serri Graslie, NPR News.


SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.