LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A slumping job market and an increasingly weak economic outlook may make it tougher than ever for college graduates to find work.

An analysis of U.S. Labor Department data conducted for The Associated Press shows half of young college graduates with bachelor’s degrees are either unemployed or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Despite often shelling out thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars for a four-year degree – which may have taken longer than four years to acquire — a near-majority of graduates are scraping by with lower-wage jobs in the customer service sector.

“I think a lot of getting a job, sadly, these days is who you know, not what you know,” said one woman.

While jobs in science, education and health fields remain in strong demand, those with degrees in arts and humanities are floundering, leaving them few options beyond jobs such as a waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist.

Median wages for holders of bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000. Taking underemployment into consideration, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade.

“How it is right now is that, if you’re college educated, if you have a lot of luck, you’ll maybe find a job at $9.50 an hour,” said another woman.

With rising tuition and a lack of jobs that pay well, experts are urging college students to consider exactly their expectations for their degree.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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