Tough prospects for the class of 2013

Graduation season will soon kick in and prospects still aren't good for young graduates, said the Economic Policy Institute in a study released Wednesday.

While the situation has improved somewhat, employment for young people has not returned to pre-recession levels.

For high school graduates, unemployment is 29.9 percent, compared to 17.5 percent in 2007, when the recession began. One in two are under-employed, the Institute said. One in five college graduates are under-employed (other studies put that number considerably higher) and the unemployment rate for college grads is 8.8 percent, compared to 5.7 percent when the recession started.

The Institute rejects the "skills gap" explanation for youth unemployment. "Rather, it stems from weak demand for goods and services, which makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring," the organization said.

Significantly, even if the young people do land appropriate work, the quality of their jobs has eroded, the report said. Fewer and fewer are receiving health or pension coverage. Wages are lower than they were in 2000, adjusting for inflation. High school wages declined 12.7 percent and college graduate wages declined 8.5 percent. 

Starting out at lower wages means these young workers may never catch up.

It's a bleak report, but a familiar one. Last year, my colleague Al Lubrano and I spent the better part of a year writing about the struggles of young people in today's job market.