Jobs were scarce for college graduates during the recent Great Recession, but it was even tougher for those who tried to enter the workforce straight out of high school or with just an associate's degree.
"All three groups experienced a decline in employment rates, in their average weekly earnings, and also in the skill level of the jobs that they had," says Diana Elliot of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Elliot analyzed research on 21 to 24-year-olds during the downturn.
"Those with a college degree weathered the recession better than those with lesser credentials," she says.
However, Pew's research also found that even now no one in that age group is being paid like they were before the recession, and fewer are choosing post-secondary education.
"There was actually a decline in school enrollment for all three education groups, and those levels have not returned to the same level they were at before the recession," Elliot says.
Pew's research comes as more people question whether going to college is as valuable as it once was, given the rising cost of tuition and the burden of paying off student loans.