About 60% of recent graduates have not been able to find a full-time job in their chosen profession, according to job placement firm Adecco.
And for those just entering the workplace, a bout of long-term unemployment can affect their career plans for years to come.
Meghan O'Halloran was one of those who had her career derailed by the timing of her graduation.
She left Cornell University with a degree in architecture and six summers of internships at top firms in New York, Milan and London.
"I thought getting a job would be a snap," she said.But after graduating in December 2008, just as job losses in the economy were reaching a high point, she was confronted with a very cold reception into the labor force.