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Guess who's making $16.81 an hour?

(MoneyWatch) If you're wondering why so many young college graduates are living at home, you only have to look at the kind of salaries that they are earning.

These college graduates (ages 21-24) are making an average hourly wage of $16.81 per hour, which equals a yearly salary of roughly $35,000, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

Current wages are worse for women. Even though women tend to graduate from college in higher numbers, women graduates are earning hourly wages ($15) that are 13.9% less than men ($18.29).

Poor salaries for the past decade

Wage prospects have been underwhelming for most of the previous decade. Between 2007 and 2011, for instance, wages for young college grads dropped 4.6%. Since 2000, the wages of young college grads have dropped 5.4% with women getting hit the hardest. Women's wages have shrunk by 8.5% and men's wages have dropped by 1.6%.

You can see the hourly wage stagnation in the 2000's in this EPI graphic:

What's in store for the future?

There are consequences for graduating when the U.S. economy is struggling. The report provides this grim assessment:

"For the next 10 to 15 years, the Class of 2012 will likely earn less than they would have if they had graduated when job opportunities were plentiful."

During poor economic times, according to the researchers, the unemployment rate is roughly twice as high for young people as the overall unemployment rate. Earlier this spring, the unemployment rate for workers under 25 was 16.4% versus 8.2% for the overall population. Young Americans not only experience a harder time finding work, but they are often the first to be laid off.

This won't be much of a consolation, but young Americans who only possess a high school degree have it much tougher. Earlier in the spring, nearly one out of every three were unemployed.

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