The Labor Department says job prospects for recent college graduates deteriorated slightly last year despite an improvement in the overall job market.

The unemployment rate for Americans age 20 to 29 who received a four-year or advanced degree last year rose to 12.4 percent from 10.9 percent in 2013. But the figures are volatile, and many recruiters and campus officials say hiring this spring will be strong.

For graduates with bachelor's degrees, unemployment climbed to 14.9 percent last year from 11.5 percent in 2013. For those with advanced degrees, unemployment slid to 5.4 percent from 9.3 percent.

Overall, the economy generated 3.1 million jobs last year, the most since 1999. And the overall unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5 percent in March from 6.7 percent at the end of 2013.