In the three months to September, one in five unemployed 18- to 24-year-olds had a degree – up from one in six three years ago – according to data obtained by the Liberal Democrats.
University leavers are still far less likely to be out of work, but the rate of unemployment for degree holders has risen faster than it has for young people with lower qualifications, the Guardian reports.
Since the start of the economic downturn the unemployment rate for 18- to 24-year-olds has increased by 5.8% to 18%.
The proportion of unemployed 18- to 24-year-olds who are graduates rose 3.5 percentage points to 20.3% of all unemployed 18- to 24-year-olds in the past year, while the proportion who were unemployed and had no qualifications or only GCSEs fell, according to the figures obtained in parliament and seen by the Guardian.
Stephen Williams, the Liberal Democrat universities spokesman, said: “The same graduates that have been saddled with record levels of debt are now bearing the brunt of the recession. Youth unemployment looks set to be one of Labour’s lasting legacies.”
The figures come alongside separate data, published today by the Conservatives, which shows that tens of thousands of graduates were working part-time or unpaid even before the recession.
The number graduates from the class of 2008 who were unable to find work increased by 44% in a single year, from about 14,000 to more than 20,000.
A further 23,000 recent graduates are working part-time and 3,500 are working unpaid, up from 19,500 and 2,500 respectively the previous year.
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “A degree is a good investment in your future career… even in these difficult times.”