Finding a job should be a little bit easier this year for new college graduates, research finds.
The hiring of recent college grads is projected to increase by an average of 15 percent across all degree levels over the next year, according to a new Michigan State University study. This includes grads with associate, bachelor's and master's degrees, along with those holding doctorates or professional degrees.
Overall, the employers surveyed plan to hire 115,000 new graduates this year, with nearly three-quarters of those having bachelor's degrees.
The biggest gains are expected for those with associate and professional degrees. Compared to a year ago, the hiring of new grads with associate and professional degrees is expected to increase by 23 percent this year. In addition, the hiring of graduates with a master's degree is expected to rise by 10 percent, the first substantial increase in the past several years.
This is the third straight year hiring of new graduates should increase.
"Most signs point to another explosive year of growth in the job market for college graduates," Phil Gardner, the study's lead author and a Michigan State economist, said in a statement.
The research revealed that professional, business and scientific fields, including such areas as accounting, computer services and environmental consulting, are expected to lead the way in the hiring of new grads. Meanwhile, manufacturing businesses are anticipated to see the largest drop in hiring. [College Kids Want Stable Jobs, Not Exciting Careers ]
Company growth, employee turnover and the retirement of an increasing number of baby boomers are driving the improved labor market for new college graduates.
"Three years ago, employers rarely talked about turnover," Gardner said. "This year, the percentage of employers reporting turnover as a major driving force rose to 56 percent, an 11 percent increase over last year."
The research also found that 31 percent of employers, up from 19 percent a year ago, said retirements are motivating their hiring decisions.
"Baby boomer retirements will almost certainly become more critical in the near future, particularly for education, government, finance and professional-service jobs," Gardner said.
On average, starting salaries for college grads are projected to increase between 2 and 5 percent this year. However, some occupations, such as engineering and information technology, should see bigger gains in starting offers.
"Although more employers will increase starting salaries, overall salaries may lag slightly behind inflation," Gardner said.
The study was based on surveys ofmore than 4,700 employers throughout all 50 states.