The Job Market for College Graduates Is Improving

Posted By Eliana Osborn on November 10, 2015 at 1:36 pm
The Job Market for College Graduates Is Improving

The Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State University recently released its annual report on recruiting trends. There’s good news for those with college degrees—a 15% increase in hiring. These aren’t new, start-up jobs for the most part, as this improved job market for college graduates is being driven by replacing workers or adding to growing companies.

More than 4,700 employers from seven major sectors of the economy shared responses for this report, with 72% of employers recruiting only from their region of the country, and 91% looking for job candidates at four-year public and private schools.

Salary growth

What recent graduates can expect to get paid at their new jobs isn’t as positive news. Most employers say salaries won’t be changing over the next year. Those that do receive increases will only see small numbers—between 2 and 5%. Fields like engineering and information technology, though, should see bigger salary jumps.

Economic sector job growth and decline

Graduates looking for jobs in manufacturing will have the biggest struggles, as hiring there is down from last year. Publishing, broadcasting, and anything related to oil or petroleumare all areas with little or no job growth. Construction, finance, insurance, and education are all forecasted for more hires. Engineering and nonprofit jobs are still available, but their numbers are growing slowly. International jobs are growing at the smallest rate—up 6%, in comparison to national hires at double that rate.

For current and future college students, it is difficult to predict what fields will be hiring come graduation time. Economies change, technology is invented, and there are general fluctuations. For instance, pharmaceutical manufacturing may have looked like a smart bet for science-savvy students, but this year’s hiring is down 40% from last year for those with a bachelor’s degree.

Job growth for associate’s degrees

Many of the improved hiring statistics are for those will at least an associate’s degree. This is on trend with other job data showing that employers want candidates with some sort of specific training, and where a bachelor’s degree may be unnecessary. For example, hospitality hiring for associate’s degree holders is up 60%. In depository banking, associate degree positions are the only segment with increased hiring, up 40%, compared to 26% lower for bachelor’s degrees.

Overall, hiring is up in every region of the country, with associate degree positions growing 40% in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. For bachelor’s degree graduates every region has similar numbers between 10 and 20% higher. After several difficult years of job search for younger Americans, these hiring trend numbers from the CERI are an optimistic look forward.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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