Hiring Situation for New College Graduates Looks Bleak

PHOTO: Students participate in a human knot exercise Wednesday, April 10, 2013, during the fourth annual JAG Career Development Conference held at Lake Michigan Colleges Mendel Center. JAG is an effort to prepare students for the workplace.

The economy might be improving, but few employers are hiring more new college graduates.

In fact, the hiring situation for new graduates looks about the same as last year, which is to say not very good, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Broadly, projections for hiring plummeted in 2009 but have ticked upward since then. Yet, there is only supposed to be a 2.1 percent increase in hiring graduates from the class of 2013. That's the smallest increase in five years.

It's nowhere near last year's survey estimate that indicated a 13 percent increase in the hiring of recent graduates.

One reason is that employers are simply reluctant to bring on new people because they are not confident that the economy will continue to do well. Many of the businesses that survived the recession were able to continue working with a pared down workforce. They may be reluctant to add the extra costs of more employees when they've been able to get by with less.

A separate report from NACE paints a slightly more positive picture for those graduates who are actually hired. The average starting salary for new college graduates with bachelor's degrees has increased 5.3 percent in the last year, according to the group. The average starting salary is now about $45,000.

Many of the fields that are hiring are technology-related. Some science and technology companies have said that they've had trouble hiring qualified workers despite high demand for jobs. Companies like Facebook and Microsoft have called for immigration reform that would allow high-skilled immigrants who obtain certain graduate degrees in the United States to remain in the country and work.

As demand for health science workers grows, that industry has seen a salary uptick of nearly 10 percent in the last year. Education, business and computer science salaries have also increased. Engineering and communications saw somewhat smaller salary gains, while graduates in the humanities and social sciences saw almost no gains.

According to the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement, a majority of students said potential career opportunities affected their choice of major. This sentiment was most prevalent among Asian students, followed by African-Americans, Latinos and then whites.

We'd like to hear from recent or current college students: Did the state of the economy impact what you decided to study in college?

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