The unemployment rate for recent college graduates has spiked higher, forcing many former students with huge school loan debt to take low-wage jobs in coffee shops and shopping malls just to scrape by, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“Both unemployment and underemployment have followed a clear upward trend for recent college graduates over the past two decades, and particularly since the 2001 recession. In addition, it has become more common for underemployed college graduates to find themselves in low-wage jobs or to be working part-time,” said the report circulated by Harvard University.

Stuck with college bills that may be more than $29,000, according to Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, the situation for struggling grads has prompted many to work part-time jobs and even two low-wage jobs to make do, said the New York Fed. But even the quality of those “non-college” jobs has deteriorated over the last decade, it added.

The grim details for recent college graduates from the Fed:

— Unemployment is higher than the national average, peaking at around 7 percent in 2010.

— Underemployment has jumped to 44 percent in 2012.

— Fewer are finding jobs in their fields of study.

— The number of those who have taken good-paying jobs where college degrees are not needed, such as electricians or mechanics, has dropped from 50 percent in the 1990s to 36 percent by 2009.

— Those working part time has jumped from 15 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2011.

There were some bright spots, however, in the New York Fed report. First, it said that it is not atypical for newly graduated students to take time looking for and finding jobs. It also found that students with degrees in teaching, health and engineering don’t have trouble finding a new job in their field after graduating. But those, for example, schooled as architects or with a liberal arts degree, have a higher unemployment rate.

“[Y]oung college graduates entering the labor market since the 2001 recession face more challenges in finding a good job,” said the report, titled “Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?”

The report concluded, “While many of these graduates will eventually find employment or transition into higher-skilled jobs as they gain experience and as the labor market normalizes, recent research suggests that those who begin their careers during such a weak labor market recovery may see permanent negative effects on their wages.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at