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College class of 2020 will graduate into wobbly economy

With graduation looming, the future is looking a lot less bright than it did just a few months ago for college seniors.

They are entering a job market flooded with tens of millions of workers who have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus, The Kansas City Star reports.

Margaret Simms, a nonresident fellow at the Urban Institute, described the situation as “dire,” saying experienced workers will be the first to return to work as businesses reopen and move beyond skeleton staffing.

Erica Overfelt, a senior journalism student from the University of Missouri who lost her job at Columbia’s Arc Recreation Center early in the pandemic, knows firsthand the anxiety of leaving school and stepping into the unknown. She said she feels that college students have been “left in the dark.”

After a brief stay with her parents in Jefferson City after the campus shut down, she is back in her apartment, struggling to pay the rent.

Juaquin Robles, a 23-year-old New York University senior visiting MU through a fellowship with the Missouri Democratic Party, originally planned to move to Washington, D.C., post-graduation. Now, he’s not so sure.

“It seems like a huge setback for me, because it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be able to move forward with the economy that is worsening at the moment,” Robles said.

Students still in college, who thought they had summer gigs locked down, are also grappling with undetermined employment. And there’s no assurance that even their part-time jobs will return.

“The effects are definitely most acute for those people who right this minute are graduating — the class of 2020 — those college graduates, but also there are impacts that are going to feed back onto sophomores and juniors,” Donna Ginther, director of the Institute for Policy & Social Research at the University of Kansas, said.

Nicole Smith, a University of Missouri sophomore, was working three jobs when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. She moved home to Rogersville after she lost her hours as a hostess at Texas Roadhouse. Her other jobs, nanny and teaching assistant, were not enough to cover the $570 rent on her Columbia apartment, let alone groceries and car insurance.

Now, her summer job as a camp counselor is also up in the air. She said it’s best described as “a slippery slope.”

Johns Hopkins University reported 494 deaths and 9,900 cases in the state as of Sunday.

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