Students facing troubled times

As the stock market continues to tumble and layoffs persist, college students are facing bleak prospects.

Hiring freezes and older workers clinging to jobs as their retirement savings shrink make finding jobs after graduation exceptionally hard.

The nation, which always looks to young people for inspiration, is watching to see how college students will handle the challenges.

Fortunately, many remain optimistic. A recent study of 12,000 students reported that more than half are confident they’ll be employed within three months of graduation.

But the same study, released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, showed that employers expected to hire 22 percent fewer graduates this year than they hired from the class of 2008.

Of the employers surveyed, 67 percent said they expected to alter their hiring plans for the class of 2009, and nearly a quarter don’t intend to hire any graduates.

Creating opportunities for the nation’s best and brightest should be high on the agenda as policy makers in

Washington, state capitals and communities plan for the spending of stimulus funds and creation of jobs.