But every­thing that is known about the job market points to the fact that Mr. Wells and his cohort are feeling the pinch. Many of the country’s largest com­pa­nies make most of their entry level hires on campus, meaning there are no slots for the hap­less person who had the mis­for­tune of grad­u­ating in 2011. And his­tor­i­cally, those who grad­uate during a reces­sion earn far less than their peers who do not, and it can take a decade or more for them to catch up. Many have been forced to settle for lower-​​wage, lower-​​skill jobs, which has in turn helped increase job­less­ness among the high school grad­u­ates who pre­vi­ously held those jobs.

In 2000, about 60 per­cent of employed col­lege grad­u­ates were working in jobs that required a degree, said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. Now fewer than half are.

Campus recruiters at a variety of insti­tu­tions said that those who grad­u­ated in 2013 have had a rel­a­tively easy time finding jobs, in part because the pro­longed eco­nomic down­turn has made them more focused on preparing them­selves for the work­place. Alumni who grad­u­ated in the pre­vious few years con­tinue to trickle in, asking for help.


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