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Some Positive Signs, But Most College Grads Still Battling Weak Job Market, Big Debt

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — College seniors will soon be donning caps and gowns, but more than half will also be shouldering staggering debt.

“I don’t have a way to pay it off right now,” one man told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “It’s certainly terrifying.”

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is pushing to allow college loans to be refinanced so grads locked into 7 percent can cut their interest rates in half.

“Let our students refinance at the low interest rates that everyone else can get,” Schumer said.

The legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate next month.

The college loan burden is compounding what college graduates have been facing for years — a tough job market.

“So many occupations that aren’t hiring,” one woman said.

“I have friends that already graduated with their bachelor’s, going for their master’s, and they’re working at fast-food chains,” one man told Gusoff.

But there’s optimism the job market is slowly improving. At Hofstra University, the Career Center reports an uptick in hiring.

“This year has been good for us, in fact” said Gary Alan Miller, executive director of the Career Center. “We’ve just crossed over the 5,000 mark in terms of number of opportunities that have been presented to our students.”

A recent survey shows employers are hiring nearly 9 percent more graduates than last year.

“The job market is challenging, but I think that it can be done,” said Rachel Quinn, who will graduate from Hofstra next week and has lined up a corporate recruiting job. “It’s not impossible.”

Others are still looking.

“A lot of people are taking unpaid internships just to get a foot in the door,” a student said.

Glenn Bernstein, chief operating officer for the staffing firm The Execu-Search Group, said there are limited opportunities for job seekers fresh out of college.

“Health care, specifically,” Bernstein said of professions that are hiring. “We see a lot in the information technology area. Digital media is a popular area right now. So there are jobs available; there’s just more competition for them.

Bernstein said college students shouldn’t wait until their senior year to begin their job search. Connections are important, and students can start making their own via social media, internships and networking, he said.

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