By Joe Mathieu, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a big reality check for college grads, many of whom are just now entering the real world, degree in-hand. They’re sending resumes, making phone calls and getting nothing but crickets.

It’s hard enough to get a career started when times are good. These days it can be demoralizing. And as a result, more recent college grads are working jobs that have nothing to do with their degree. In fact, they don’t require a degree at all.

There’s even a name for this – economists call it “mal-employment” – it’s like an unemployment rate for college grads under 25.

Researchers at the Center For Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University say it’s now above 36-percent.

So what are these people with expensive degrees doing?

They’re waiting tables, working cash registers and doing manual labor.

This, as many try to pay off college loans in the six figures.

Of course, it’s nothing new to see fresh college grads working money jobs. I certainly did. But these numbers are much bigger than we’re used to.

In the year 2000 the mal-employment rate was more than 15-percentage points below the current level.

And as you might imagine, we can trace this back to the Great Recession.

Researchers say the economic downturn hit young workers especially hard. But of course the recession ended – at least officially – several years ago.

But consider how many older professionals lost their jobs during the recession. They ended-up taking lower paying positions – jobs that normally go to college grads.

It’s like a game of musical chairs and thousands of 20-somethings are left standing.

You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeMathieuWBZ

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