Figures released by Germany's Federal Employment Agency show that the number of unemployed people holding college degrees rose 17,000 from January to December, according to a report published Saturday in the newspaper Die Welt.
In total, some 167,000 college graduates in Germany are without jobs.
"We expected this," said Klaus Brenke of Germany's DIW economics research institute. "The current crisis is primarily affecting Germany's export sector." The industries most hit are in the engineering or high-tech fields, which employ many with post-secondary degrees.
It is the biggest increase in the jobless rate among degree holders since the beginning of the last decade. Between 2001 and 2002, the unemployment rate in the same group jumped 25 percent.
More and more highly qualified individuals in Germany these days are being forced to live off welfare benefits, according to the report.
In 2009, the number of college grads accessing government support rose by 10 percent and some 60,000 degree holders are now officially classified as "poor."