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Oct. 14, 2014

Jobs plentiful for college grads

The job market for new college graduates is red hot.

After several years of modest growth, hiring is expected to jump a whopping 16 percent for newly minted degree-holders in 2014-15, according to key findings from Recruiting Trends. The annual survey, by Michigan State University economist Phil Gardner, is the nation’s largest with nearly 5,700 companies responding.

“Employers are recruiting new college graduates at levels not seen since the dot-com frenzy of 1999-2000,” said Gardner, director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute. “Competition for qualified candidates is escalating to a degree rarely seen in the past 10 years.”

Most industries report a rapid increase in anticipated hiring, led by information services (up 51 percent over last year) and finance and insurance (up 31 percent). Other growing industries include professional, business and scientific services; government; manufacturing; nonprofits; and health services.

In addition, the market is strong for nearly all types of new degree-holders. Those with an MBA degree lead the way with an estimated 38 percent spike in hiring, followed by doctorate (up 20 percent), associate’s (up 19 percent), bachelor’s (up 16 percent) and professional (up 8 percent). Hiring for new master’s degree graduates should be stagnant. When all degrees are taken into account, hiring is expected to increase 16 percent.

In the past three Recruiting Trend surveys, Gardner predicted overall hiring growth of between 2 percent and 4 percent, so the latest forecast is a major improvement. It also jibes with other positive indicators, including an Oct. 8 Labor Department report that said the number of U.S. job openings reached a 13-year high in August.

What’s yet to be seen, Gardner said, is whether the double-digit increase in hiring for college graduates will become the norm or if it’s simply a one-year surge before the market settles down to slower yet steady growth.

The key findings precede the full Recruiting Trends report, which will be released in November. The survey is in its 44th year.