The Wall Street Journal reported over 50% of workers who had been at a job for more than three years and were laid off during this recession and were lucky enough to have found employment (which, obviously, is not an easy thing to do,) are working for less than they had been. Considerably less. Over 35% of those making less are making over 20% less. That would be like making you wages on Monday through Thursday and working for free on Friday.
What happens after that? Unfortunately, it suppresses wages for the individual for many years. Noted Columbia economist Till Marco von Wachter has studied three decades of wage data by tracking workers from the 1981-2 recession who lost their jobs and saw a 30% earnings decrease. Even after 20 years, their wages are still 20% lower than their peers who didn't lose their jobs.
What does this mean for people entering the work force for the first time? Pretty much the same thing as those who've been in the market for years. Once you've found employment, don't expect the wages you thought you'd have. This will in turn, may depress your wages for at least the next decade or even further.
The best way to overcome this is being as selective as you can in this market with the job you take. Make sure the job you take has the possibility to parlay into something better; it's a stepping stone to something a lot more attractive at that same company or perhaps a springboard for something at another entity altogether.
As an alternative, there are many people who turn hobbies into a vocation. So many people work in industries totally different from what they studied in school. As the saying goes, if you like what you do, you'll do good at it and life will be much better than doing something you absolutely hate. That's why I went from accountant to professional speaker.
If you're looking for a job, think about jobs you can do to set you in the direction of something that interests you. Volunteer work can be a great entree into a vocation. What are some of your hobbies? What are some of the things you enjoy doing?