I think everything you say makes sense, but there's one distinction I think needs to be made.
The guys who graduate when the job market picks up aren't going to be behind the backog of other years' grads. I've seen this play out time and time again. I'm older. So, I've seen a few booms and busts.
What happens is that people who graduate during a bust cycle almost always have their career ****ed for good. They never, never make up the ground that they lost. I've seen numerous articles and studies on this, but the basic gist is this:
Some guy graduates during a bust. He's #15 out of a class of 100. Can't find a job. Ends up working odd jobs, eventually gets some job at a title company. His career is pretty much forever defined by this starting point.
The guy who graduates during a boom? He's #15 out of a class of 100, gets a job offer of $65,000 at some midsize firm. His career continues on a trajectory from there.
This is just one of the first that turned up on a google search, but the effects of graduating in a downturn are long-lasting.http://www.doublex.com/blog/xxfactor/recession-has-really-screwed-recent-college-grads
The effects of graduating in a boom? It would seem only fair that the new guys should have to wait after all the old guys, but that just isn't the case. Training pipelines that want recent grads want exactly that: recent grads.
I graduated high school during a recession. Went in the military. Got out, went to college. Right when I needed a job, another recession. In '93, I was able to find a good job that lasted a while. Completed a graduate degree. Finished it just before... yep... another recession. Was sorta stuck, instead of being able to use my degree to vault to the next level.
In the mean time, timing is everything. People who graduated just 2 or 3 years before or after had multiple job offers, higher salaries, etc.
I remember when I got my first management job, I needed to hire a LAN administrator. The market was so hot, I ended up hiring a kid who had completed only a year or so at a community college. I paid him over $40,000 to start. Just 7 years earlier, I'd taken my first job at 27K and didn't mkae that kind of money until 3 promotions and a relocation later.
I do agree with what you have to say about the economy. I live in SE Michigan / NW Ohio and this place is just depressing. It's hard to stay encouraged around here.
Did you know many/any people who transferred out of Wayne? Was anybody able to get to U Mich, Notre Dame, Case or Ohio State?