College grads can expect good job prospects

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The hiring of college graduates in 2016-17 is expected to be robust, with a predicted 23 increase over last year, according to Michigan State University’s Recruiting Trends, the nation’s largest annual survey of employers.

The survey, released Wednesday, shows company growth and employee turnover is helping drive hiring, but the hiring surge is a 19 percent increase for those with bachelor’s degrees and a 37 percent spike for associate degrees, said Phil Gardner, survey author and director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute.

Those with master’s degrees are also expected to have a breakout year, with hiring projected to be up 32 percent and MBA hires expanded to 40 percent.

“The college labor market has enjoyed six years of steady improvement since the depths of the recession between 2009 and 2010,” Gardner said.

“Our report shows that the hiring of college graduates has been moving at warp speed for the past two years. And signs in the early fall of 2016 point again to another explosive year of hiring.”

Of the 4,350 employers surveyed from 50 states, territories and neighboring countries, the projected hiring totaled about 107,200 graduates this year, with 70 percent at bachelor’s level.

Growth was the reason behind hiring plans, according to 70 percent of employers. Sectors with the strongest growth were government, health services, nonprofits, hospitality and food services, real estate and utilities.

Starting salaries were also expected to be among the best in a decade, increasing an average of 4 percent.

Among the starting salaries:

■Electrical engineering: $62,428

■Software design: $61,466

■Civil engineering: $54,333

■Accounting: $47,245

■Nursing: $46,159

■Marketing: $44,087

■Criminal justice: $39,622

■High school math and science teacher: $38,841

■Social work: $37,115

■Pre-K and kindergarten teacher: $35,626.

Companies surveyed represented sectors in professional, business, scientific, manufacturing, education, finance and insurance, government, health care, social assistance and nonprofits. Key states in the survey were Michigan, Massachusetts, Arizona, California, Florida, Ohio and Texas.

According to the survey, the broad economic outlook is improving: unemployment has gone below 5 percent, financial markets continue to improve and interest rates remain low.

The outcome of the presidential election isn’t expected to be a factor in hiring. “The 2016 election is negative and in many ways lacks solid grounding in economic policy,” Gardner said.

“Who gets elected and the policies and posturing they embrace have the potential to suddenly turn a promising condition into a shaky one.”