Employers say they plan to hire 5 percent more new grads this year than last year, according to recent data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The NACE surveys employers twice a year in the spring and fall to determine the hiring outlook for graduating students.
“We are looking at a rosier picture today for college grads,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, in a recent interview with The Baltimore Sun. “Things have definitely been improving. … As we add more jobs, jobs are being offered to people across the spectrum.”
The Sun also notes that unemployment for recent grads has declined to 5.6 percent, according to figures from the Economic Policy Institute — approaching pre-recession levels.
Employers plan to hire 5 percent more new grads than last year, according to recent data.
Reduced Hiring of International Students
The current projection of 5 percent is down slightly from the last survey in the fall, which forecast 5.8 percent growth, but is consistent with the last few surveys, the NACE says. The decrease may be due to reduced hiring of international students.
Among respondents sharing their international student hiring plans, almost 46 percent are decreasing their international student hires within the United States, 30.3 percent are maintaining these hires, and just 24.2 percent are increasing these hires. This is not surprising as the Job Outlook 2017 survey found that the percentage of respondents planning to hire international students dropped from 32.8 percent for the Class of 2016 to just 27.5 percent for the Class of 2017—the lowest level since the Class of 2012.
Are College Students Underemployed?
Of course, just having a job isn’t the full picture of post-college employment. Sixty-eight percent of graduating seniors had student loan debt in 2015, according to The Project on Student Debt, with an average debt-load of $30,100 per borrower. To pay off their student loans and realize a return on their tuition investment, new grads want good jobs — meaning jobs in their field and jobs that pay good wages.
Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that underemployment for recent grads has decreased by about 2 percentage points since its height after the recession.
“About 44 percent of recent college grads were employed in jobs not requiring degrees in the final quarter of 2016, not far from the 2013 peak of 46 percent, while the share of that group in low-wage positions has held steady,” writes Steve Matthews at Bloomberg.
“…different employers may have different requirements for the same occupation,” he writes. “While one restaurant might say no college degree is required to be its manager, another says the opposite and actually gives the manager enough responsibility and tasks to truly require (and fully employ) a college graduate. Yet, under [this approach], if 49 percent of restaurant managers use a college degree and 51 percent don’t, all the ones with college degrees will be wrongly counted as underemployed.”
Further, it’s worth mentioning that college graduates earn more than those with only a high school diploma. In January, the Associated Press reported that the pay gap between college grads and non-grads was higher than ever before, with college graduates earning 56 percent more than high school grads in 2015.
Tell Us What You Think
Recent grads, does this report reflect your experiences in the job market? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.