Now, there's growing anxiety that the employment situation will be even more dire for rising college students. The Greater Raleigh College Fair, which is the largest college fair in the Triangle, drew about 6,500 local high school students Tuesday.
The economy was on the mind of many in attendance.
"I plan on going into genetic engineering," said high school junior Jessica McAfee. "So, I have to have a lot of experience."
"Yeah, I want to get into, like, education, because that's like job security," said Cary High School student Nzinga Simmons.
Job security is usually a concept not heard from many teenagers. However, in this economy, it's becoming the norm.
"We are noticing more parents asking the question of 'OK, my child's going to graduate from your institution, what about the job market,'" said Joyce Mai, who is the co-chair of the Greater Raleigh College Fair.
Mai said more parents want to know about a university's career services, networking and job placement.
It's a sobering reality considering North Carolina's jobless rate. The latest figures show the state with the fourth highest in the country at 10.2 percent, which is about two points higher than the national average.
"You see like a lot of now hiring signs on fast food restaurants, but you don't really hear much about big corporations hiring," said McAfee. "I hear more about getting laid off."
"We make sure we tell her to get a degree in something that's very marketable," said parent Monique Simmons.
Many parents are hopeful the economy will improve in the months ahead as their children prepare to join the workforce.