Graduate wages in dip on 2010 level
Graduates are typically earning more than £1,000 less now than they were five years ago, while the wages gap between those with and without a degree is narrowing, official figures show.
It suggests that salaries for postgraduates and non-graduates have risen faster since 2010 than for those who hold a first degree.
The new statistics, published by the Business Department, do show that graduates are still likely to be earning almost £10,000 more than those who have not been to university.
And the employment rate for working age graduates is at its highest level in seven years.
Overall, in the first three months of this year, graduates were typically earning £31,200, while non-graduates were taking home £22,100 - a gap of £9,100. In 2010, the gap was £11,596.
Those holding a postgraduate qualification had the highest salaries, typically around £39,000.
But in the first quarter of 2010, the typical graduate salary was £32,396, meaning that earnings have dropped by £1,196 in five years.
At the same time, wages for postgraduates have risen by £1,820 and for non-graduates they have gone up by £1,300.
These figures do not take into account changes in inflation.
An analysis of the statistics indicates that salaries for graduates have fallen 3.7% in past five years, while over the same period, they have risen by 6.3% for non-graduates and 4.9% for postgraduates.
The figures also show:
:: The employment rate for working age graduates now stands at 87.5% - the highest level since the final three months of 2007, when it was 88.3%.
:: The unemployment rate for young graduates - those aged 21 to 30 - is now 3.9%, the lowest level for the first three months of the year since 2007.
:: The employment rate for young graduates (21-30s) is 3.6 percentage points higher than five years ago, while for postgraduates it is up 2.9 points and the non-graduate rate is up 3.4 points.
:: The employment rate for young graduates is rising faster (up 3.6 points) than for all graduates (2.5 points).
Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: "Making the leap from university to the 'real world' of work is becoming easier and graduate employment has now recovered to 2007 levels.
"In the last year alone, the unemployment rate among young grads has ticked down 1% year-on-year, with fewer university leavers stuck in limbo between education and work. After years of stalemate, with fewer employees moving up or moving out of their positions, the labour market is now much more liquid, which has opened up opportunities for those new to the workforce."
A Business Department spokeswoman said: "Today's figures are great news for the UK economy and show the most working-age graduates in employment since 2007. These results demonstrate how higher education is an excellent option for people of all ages seeking to gain employment and a rewarding career.
"Working age graduates still benefit from a significant earnings premium of, on average, £9,000 per year over non-graduates. Although very much worthwhile, higher education is not for everyone. There are thousands of apprenticeships and courses in further education that also offer entry into many exciting career prospects."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "While university leavers are still better paid and more likely to have a job than non-graduates of the same age, today's figures show their prospects are worsening, just as their debts are soaring.
"Many graduates are now finding themselves doing lower-skilled, lower-paid jobs. This is in turn pushing young people who don't have a degree out of work altogether."