More than 20,000 students were unemployed six months after graduating from university, with men more likely to be out of work than women, figures show.
Thousands more graduates took jobs that do not require a degree such as window cleaners, office juniors and road sweepers.
Overall, 20,415 UK and EU full-time university leavers (9%) were assumed to be unemployed after completing their first degree in 2011/12, according to new data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
This is around the same proportion as last year, the figures show, although HESA warned that the figures are not directly comparable due to changes in the way they are collected.
Women are faring better than men in the job market, the data suggests.
More than one in 10 (10.9%) of male graduates whose whereabouts were known six months after they finished their first degree were jobless, compared to 7.2% of women.
The HESA statistics also look at the types of jobs and careers graduates were in after gaining their degree.
In 2011/12 more than a third (36%) of new graduates working in the UK were in "non-professional" jobs that did not necessarily require a degree.
Around 9,695 people were working in "elementary occupations", taking jobs as office juniors, hospital porters, waiters, bartenders, road sweepers, window cleaners, shelf stackers and lollipop men and women.
Rising numbers were working in factories and sales and customer services.
In total, 745 were working in factories or plants, against 720 last year, while 21,025 were working in roles such as sales assistant, caretaker, market trader and call centres. Last year this figure stood at 20,675.
The largest group - 54,435 people - were in the graduate job level group described as "professional occupations". This includes vets, dentists, pharmacists, engineers, teachers and solicitors.
Professor Michael Gunn, chair of the university group million+ and vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University said: "Six months is a relatively short time to make a judgment about the value of getting a degree and the occupations which graduates will enter in the future. However, these statistics confirm that even in a very difficult labour market studying for a degree on a full-time or a part-time basis remains one of the best ways of securing employment and a career."