I think it depends on the school, too. I live in a city where there are nursing departments popping up at every school (accredited or not, community/technical schools AND 4 yr. + universities.) The program I'm in is one of the older, more established ones although it is an ADN program. Graduates of my program are usually very well-received in the hospital community here even though it's a pretty small one (only 2 major networks.) This is because it IS well-established and hiring managers know that my school's graduates get more clinical experience than even the BSN grads at a notable university here.
I also think this goes back to your comment about your friend--HR departments and nurse managers KNOW which universities are just pumping out graduates and which ones are actually training nurses. I have heard horror stories of some grads at the 2 year private schools who barely TOUCHED a patient during their clinicals: never did a Foley or other basic skills.
Finally, as someone who is exiting the housing market, by choice, to go be a nurse, I can tell you that even when this market went bust, those of us with good reputations who were smart and hardworking were able to find jobs, even after getting laid off. That first job after layoff may not have paid as well or been as fun as our other job, but it was work. I think nursing downturns are the same way: some jobs may not be your dream nursing job, but they will get you experience and keep you current until that pendulum swings back the other way.