CareerTV featured in the front of Philadelphia Inquirer's Sunday business section

Where layoffs hit hardest is hard to gauge

Every day there's another layoff announcement, so Sean O'Grady finds himself confused about why his Philadelphia-based recruiting company, CareerTV USA Inc., is doing so well.

"We had to shake our heads at that," he said, "because we're doing our best sales ever, and we had our best quarter at the end of 2008."

So O'Grady started asking his clients to explain why they are bothering to recruit in these times, even when, in some cases, they are cutting back on hiring.

What he learned and what he is seeing "is the layoff of the baby-boom generation. Companies are filling those holes with bright-eyed, bushy-tailed college graduates.

"They are essentially trying to hire people they can pay less and get a lot of energy and enthusiasm," said O'Grady, 26, a senior producer at CareerTV.

CareerTV's clients are companies that want to recruit recent college graduates.

They hire CareerTV to make company recruitment videos aimed at the college-graduate demographic. CareerTV is a subsidiary of Universum Inc., a Swedish-based international marketing company with its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and a focus on college graduates.

CareerTV also produces a monthly half-hour television show distributed to career centers on 400 campuses. The show adopts a blithe tone, with features on companies and on occupations. One recent report: How to be a ski instructor.

"There is so much pressure on these students to get a job and pay off college loans that they are going to jump at these opportunities," O'Grady said. "The victims are those who are 15 to 25 years deep into their companies and have become too expensive."

The truth of O'Grady's assessment is hard to pinpoint.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the nation's economy shed 651,000 jobs in February, boosting the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent.

Looking strictly at age, teenagers 16 to 19 in the job market are faring the worst, with unemployment at 21.6 percent. Baby boomers actually have the lowest unemployment rate at 5.6 percent.

The unemployment rate for workers between the ages of 20 to 24, including college graduates, is 12.9 percent.