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Survey: New grads can expect modest rise in hiring

Graduating students wait receive their degrees during commencement Sunday Dec 11 2011 Valparaiso (Ind.) University. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

Graduating students wait to receive their degrees during commencement on Sunday, Dec 11, 2011 at Valparaiso (Ind.) University. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 19, 2012 12:32PM

Modest good news for college students: An annual survey predicts employers will increase hiring of new 4-year college graduates about 5 percent in the coming year. Demand for graduates with associate’s degrees is expected to increase more sharply — by about 30 percent compared to last year’s survey — while MBA hiring appears headed for an unexpected decline.

The 42nd annual survey out Thursday from Michigan State University’s College Employment Research Institute collects responses on hiring plans from more than 2,000 U.S. employers. It paints a mixed picture reflecting an improving economy but also uncertainty over the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

The hiring numbers are certainly better than for students who graduated at the depths of the recession, but overall indicate less aggressive hiring than the last couple of years, which survey director Phil Gardner attributed to the political situation as well as weakness in sectors like defense. The survey was conducted before the election.

“Everybody just stopped making decisions to see how this election was going to be play out,” Gardner said. “A lot of people are sitting on the fence.”

For 4-year college graduates, the report finds employers are looking most actively for business-related majors, but demand is also strong for “all majors.” Demand for engineering, accounting and computer science majors appears somewhat soft.

As for those with MBAs, Gardner said it appears companies are more willing to fill jobs with bachelor’s-only recipients, who command less salary. That’s unfortunate for a glut of MBA students.

“The top-school MBA grads aren’t going to have a problem,” Gardner said. “It’s all these kids without a lot of professional experience that aren’t at the top-tier programs that will probably struggle to find work that is an ‘MBA job.’”

While higher degrees generally translate into higher earnings, there are variations. According to Georgetown University researchers, roughly 30 percent of associate’s degree recipients earn more than people with a bachelor’s. AP

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