US college grads' salaries in steep decline

According to analysis from economist Michael Mandel, the average wages of US college grads have experienced sharp declines in the last decade. On the other hand, college keeps getting more expensive, and the collection of student loans has become much more aggressive. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

By my latest calculations:

* Real earnings for young male college grads are down 19% since their peak in 2000.
* Real earnings for young female college grads are down 16% since their peak in 2003.

These figures are for full-time workers, ages 25-34, with a bachelor's degree only. See the charts below.

I want to ask an economic question, a political question, and a policy question. First, no one has given me a good explanation yet of why young American college grads should have been hit so hard. Is there increased competition with young college grads around the world? Are new college grads lower quality than their predecessors? Has information technology reduced the need for young grads? I really would like to know.

The State of Young College Grads 2011

(via Sociological Images)