The Next Generation series provides a platform for new voices speaking to the issues of our time.

I am a Hispanic undergraduate student at Florida International University and when I graduate in 2014, I need a job.

The big question is where will I find one?

It is no secret that our economy is struggling and that unemployment in the states is rampant. The most recent report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 12.8 million persons are unemployed (however, this does not include the 1.1 million discouraged workers, the 2.8 million “marginally attached to the labor force” who are unemployed or the 7.3 million who lost their jobs last month).  And the unemployment rate for Hispanics is at a 10.5 percent, making it one of the highest rates within a racial group, and the rate for persons with a Bachelor’s degree is at a 4.2 percent.  

Although this rate is not as overwhelming as the others, many recent graduates find themselves drowned in student loan payments, jobless or with low-paying salary jobs and having to move back with mom and dad. In fact, about 85 percent of the class of 2011 found themselves in such a predicament; a number that is foreboding to future graduates. But there has been some improvement.

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The unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percent, which translates to 243,000 employed persons in January. And the rate of unemployment for Hispanics also declined from a former 11 percent.  However, this does not necessarily suggest an improvement for recent graduates. The current rate of unemployement for graduates is at a 4.2 percent, which is a 0.1 percent increase from December.  So what is the forecast for the future Hispanic graduates entering the workforce?

Much, if not all, of the blame for the state of our economy falls on the financial and housing crisis in 2008. The markets crashed, the pillars of our economy suffered and the monetary stability of most homes deteriorated. This unraveling chain of effects unleashed a financial crisis that has so far lasted for four years. Clearly, the efforts made to improve our situation have not been enough. The Economic Stimulus Plan in 2009 did not bring the boost to the economy as promised, effectively adding a couple billion to our deficit. Government regulations and increased taxes have not helped the cause either and have instead helped to create a formula that has fended off small business owners. Considering that this industry is responsible for creating two-thirds of new jobs in America—this is a significant issue.

According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, 52 percent of small businesses believe that economic uncertainty is the biggest challenge, 78 percent claim that government regulation and taxation makes hiring new employees a difficult task and 84 percent agree that the national deficit has a negative impact to their business. With so many hesitant and doubtful small business owners, it is unlikely that they will begin to create new jobs without any substantial change to our situation.  

International research foundations also provide figures that reflect how our current state places us on a global standard. According to the World Economic Forum and the Kauffman Foundation, the United States ranks fifth in economic competitiveness and the level of entrepreneurship have remained relatively the same over the years. On the other hand, the World Bank states that the U.S is not in the top 20 when it comes to paying taxes. And according to the World Economic Forum we also rank low in infrastructure. Yet the most relevant statistic is from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. We rank at 14 when it comes to the percentage of college graduates.

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Clearly we need to focus on reforming our small-business regulations, tax code, infrastructure and human capital in order to improve our situation and global competitiveness. If there is less government regulation and taxation, small business will regain the confidence and assume their role as America’s main job-provider. If there are fewer loopholes in our tax codes, we could either reduce our deficit or avoid further cuts from vital sectors, like the education system. If there is more investment in infrastructure, that could create more jobs and could further decrease unemployment rates. If more incentives are created for students to go to college, then we would be creating a stronger foundation for the future of America. If what we want a stable economy, a lower unemployment rate, successful graduates and overall a better country, then these steps are necessary to get there. But with the lack cooperative politics and bi-partisan efforts in the political arena, such reform and adjustments seem distant and highly unlikely.  

This may all seem like a blurry projection for the future of Hispanic graduates and for the entire workforce population overall. Still, the recent improvements may serve as an indication that our situation is ameliorating and not all is lost.

I am a Hispanic undergraduate student at Florida International University and I will need a job when I graduate in two years. Will I find a job?  Unless someone reading this decides to hire me, the answer to this big question is―only time will tell.

Gabriela Guadalupe is a college sophomore who is pursing a double-major in Journalism and Political Science at Florida International University.  She is an active citizen within her community and has participated in several outreach programs. She is currently an intern for Congressman David Rivera and is responsible for assisting his office with projects and constituent casework.  She is a Florida-native whose background is of Puerto-Rican and Nicaraguan descent.