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SMC on-campus jobs fill fast as economy worsens

Alicia Smith | Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Campus employment provides students the luxury of a job that is willing to work with their schedules and is within walking distance. This year, however, students are finding employment opportunities at the College rather scarce.

According to Kathleen Brown, director of financial aid, jobs have been much harder come by this year than before.

“I would say the most notable difference is that the students seem to be snapping up the jobs a lot earlier than in the past,” Brown said.

Although there is no definitive answer as to why campus employment has become so popular, Lisa Karle, library assistant as well as supervisor of the collection management department at the Cushwa-Leighton Library, speculated that the current state of the economy might have something to do with it.

“Demand is higher than I’ve ever seen it since I’ve been here, since 1997. I believe it’s partially the economy and partially tuition levels, and situations that families are in,” Karle said.

Although the number of positions at the College has not fluctuated much in recent years, this year more students are looking for employment.

“In past years, we would end the school year with some jobs that were just never filled. Last school year if I recall correctly, all of the student jobs we had available were pretty much taken by January,” Brown said. “This year, even if you look at the number of jobs we have left as of today it is a lot less than we usually have at this time of the year. But there are still jobs available, as of today.”

According to the College’s Student Employment Database, there are 204 different campus jobs, many of which have more than one position for employees. As of Monday, there were only nine different job types available for student employment on campus. Each of these jobs only had limited positions remaining.

Another cause for concern in campus employment stems from the recent increases in the minimum wage.

Although positions have not been cut, students may find themselves with fewer hours to work in order to compensate for the increase of pay.

“In the library, we have the same amount of positions even though the minimum wage increased. So maybe the number of individual student hours would be lowered, but we’re trying to employ as many students as we did in the past,” Karle explained. “We’re sort of offsetting the number of hours they would get to compensate for the amount of pay. “In the past two years, the increase of the minimum wage has had a significant impact on student employees’ paychecks. Over the past two years the average paycheck for a student worker has increased by about a dollar an hour.

“Of course every year minimum wage increased we had to correspondingly adjust our pay rate,” Brown said. “We’ve got four pay rates. The majority of our jobs are in our second level. Two years ago that pay rate was $6.35 an hour and this year it’s $7.35. Our other pay rates have also changed in the last two years.”

Although jobs may seem scarce this fall, both Brown and Karle encouraged students to continue to search for an employment opportunity.

“I’d like to encourage students to persevere in finding a position, because it will be helpful when they need their resume and when they need references for the future,” Karle said.