Average Pay for College Graduates Lower Than 15 Years Ago

New report finds wages to be 2.5 percent lower than in 2000

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Economic Policy Institute’s latest report on the labor market prospects of new workers shows that wages for college graduates are 2.5 percent lower than what they were 15 years ago.

According to the research, the current hourly wage for graduates sits at an average $17.94 per hour compared to $18.41 per hour in 2000. When it comes to gender, females experienced the largest drop, with wages falling from $17.74 in 2000 to $16.56 in 2015. For male graduates, their wages actually increased slightly over the same time period from $19.44 to $19.64. Per the study, female graduates earn 84.3 cents to a man’s dollar, which is a slight improvement from the wage gap seen in the national workforce where women earn 78 cents to a man’s dollar.

[Related: Student Loan in Default? You Could Lose Your Job]

While the gender wage gap certainly speaks to the existence of inequality in the workforce, the disparity in pay amongst college graduates can also be attributed to fewer women negotiating their salary. A study released earlier this year by NerdWallet shows only 38 percent of millennials negotiate their salary, with 29 percent more males asking for higher wages than females.

Elise Gould, a senior economist and author of the EPI study, told Huffington Post a loss in wages puts off other investments for young people like buying houses and cars, with reports also showing that graduates entering a poor economy can expect wage losses for as long as 10 years as a result of initial low wages.

In order for improvements in the job market to take place, policies that bump up employment and salaries must be enacted and all workers, not just recent graduates, need to do a better job at utilizing their bargaining power.