Faith Combs, a senior interior design major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, found her plans post-graduation rendered insignificant after the stock market crashed in early March.
On March 9, the U.S. stock market dropped by a record of 7.79%. March 12 and 16, it dropped again, both times breaking the previous records for worst single-day drops in U.S. history. According to The Balance, the fear surrounding the coronavirus’s impact on businesses caused investors across the nation to withdraw and led to the drops.
Over the last three weeks, 66,741 initial unemployment claims have been filed in Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Department of Labor. For graduating seniors such as Combs, what were career opportunities have turned into uncertainties. Combs had been accepted to an internship with a company that she believed would turn into a full-time job, but due to coronavirus preventative measures, the company is closed indefinitely.
“There were some other jobs I was looking into that I had a chance of getting hired at, but since they’re considered non-essential that’s probably not going to happen anymore,” Combs said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the City of Lincoln had 45 local lab-confirmed cases. Many local businesses have had to suspend or alter operations, following Governor Pete Ricketts’ decision to limit public gatherings to 10 people. The limitations placed on businesses as preventative measures against the coronavirus can prevent businesses from continuing operations or keeping all of their current employees.
Ashley Collins, a senior graphic design and advertising and public relations double major, is also facing career obstacles due to the coronavirus. According to Collins, she had wanted to work with the Jesus Film Project ministry after graduation. She applied and got accepted, but since it’s a non-profit, she said that to actually work there she has to raise her salary herself from donations.
“[Collecting donations] is a bit nerve-wracking in this economic climate,” Collins said. “I’m still going to try, because [the Jesus Film Project] is what I have wanted to do.”
However, Collins said that if she is unable to collect the donations she will have to look into getting a job at a place like a grocery store to make ends meet.
Businesses are currently having to absorb losses to accommodate for the virus, and there’s a higher risk of a recession.
“If people don’t go out to shopping malls, if they don’t go out to restaurants as much ... if that kind of fear takes place, then those [employees] may not lose their jobs, but they might get laid-off or not be working as many hours,” William Walstad, professor of economics at UNL, said. “Any job where people congregate is at risk.”
Combs said that for her, the current economic situation and the unpredictable job market is worrisome.
“I was expecting to get a job right after I graduated, and not have to work in retail anymore,” she said. “Not being able to have any security in finding a job after I graduate and not really knowing what’s going to happen in my future is very stressful.”
Collins echoed Combs’ sentiment and said the uncertainty of the situation is very scary.
If the current economic uncertainty causes a recession, job opportunities for students will continue to dwindle. With a recession comes an increasingly contracting job market, making it difficult for recent graduates with little to no experience to find work in a competitive field.
“We don’t know if [the coronavirus] is going to push us into a recession yet,” Walstad said. “There’s a great likelihood that’s going to happen, but how much it happens we don’t know.”
Until the coronavirus is deemed to be under control, the economic situation could get worse with business’ limited operating capabilities.
“I’ve been worried that I wouldn’t get a job in my field of study, and paying off my student loans,” Collins said. “It really sucks.”
Editor’s Note: Caine Dodson contributed to this article