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New Grads Face More Receptive Job Market


For fresh college grads, job hunt circumstances have been dismal in recent years, but new research reveals this year's hiring circumstances could have a bit more pomp.

Michigan State University's annual Recruiting Trends study found that hiring is expected to increase 4 percent for the current crop of grads.

Overall, 42 percent of employers said they plan to hire this year — the most since 2007, when 47 percent said they would.

While employers were overly optimistic with their forecasts last year only to later pull back on the hiring reins, the job market for the coming year is broader, deeper and more stable, according to Phil Gardner, director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State.

"We saw some aggressive growth early on (last year), but then it disappeared," said Gardner, the study's lead researcher.  "It looks like this year's market is going to have legs."

The study shows that hiring for graduates with bachelor's degrees is expected to jump 7 percent from last year, with employers adding an average of 26 new employees.

Hiring for graduates with doctorate degrees will see the biggest jump, at 12 percent, while those with an MBA will see a 6 percent increase.

Specifically, the research found that students with skills in engineering, computer science, accounting, agriculture sciences and agriculture business and select science major disciplines will be most in demand.

Those job-seekers with degrees in communications, public relations, marketing, finance and economics also should see more opportunities, according to the study.

Employers of nearly all sizes and in nearly all parts of the country will be hiring, the study finds. Hiring at large companies with more than 4,000 employees is expected to increase by 6 percent. The exception is midsize companies with more than 500 employees, where hiring is forecasted to drop 3 percent.

Hiring is expected to increase in all regions expect the Northwest, according to the study.  The South-Central region leads the way, followed by the Southwest and Southeast.

Industries predicting the most growth include energy exploration, health care, retail, transportation, scientific research, finance and insurance, professional and administrative services, and information, which includes publishing, Web content providers and broadcasting.

Despite the positive forecast, there is still a larger supply of new and recent graduates than there are open positions, Gardner said.

"I'm optimistic that the expansion of the college labor market can last all year, and can set the table for the next few years to come," Gardner said. "But that doesn't mean that the wheels can't come off. There are huge problems out there — from the economic problems in Europe to the debt crisis in the United States to next year's election — that could really disrupt this."

The research is based on surveys of more than 3,000 employers nationwide.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.