Brighter Job Outlook for 2012 College Grads

A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that businesses expect to hire 9.5 percent more college graduates this year than last, broadening a recovery since 2009 when such hiring plummeted 22 percent.

The Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State University also reported that it expects hiring of new college graduates to rise 7 percent, which is a moderate rate compared with last year’s. Based on the responses it received, CERI reports that “This year’s market appears to be broader and a little deeper and shows a more consistent pattern of growth across industry sectors as well as by company size. Uncertainty has lessened somewhat among these employers and is reflected in a higher intention to hire college students, approaching the optimism of the 2007-2008 college labor market. More confidence is leading more employers to increase their hiring targets. Still one-third have decided to cut their hiring goals for this year.”

According to CERI, nearly 40 percent of employers will be hiring candidates from all majors, seeking the best talent regardless of field of study. Computer science majors are still in strong demand in nearly every sector, and the supply of graduates will not be sufficient to fill all available positions. Accounting, most engineering disciplines, finance, and supply chain are expected to do well this year. Some of the strongest growth will be among marketing, advertising, and public relations; sales positions are increasing as well as related services to extend employer brands. Nursing, clinical laboratory scientists, human resources, chemistry, statistics, and mathematics are just some of the majors that will see more opportunities this year.

Unemployment among college graduates up to age 24 dropped from 9.8 percent in February 2011 to 8.1 percent last month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that is well above the 4.6 percent rate in 2008. February’s unemployment rate for the same ages with just a high school diploma was 22.5 percent.

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