Employers Expect to Increase College Hires by 11.2 Percent

New college graduates embarking on the job search have reason to be cautiously optimistic. Employers say they plan to hire 11.2 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2004 than they hired from the Class of 2003, according to a new report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The new report, titled Job Outlook 2004 Spring Update, confirms an earlier NACE survey that indicated a positive hiring outlook for 2003-04 college graduates.

"When we surveyed employers back in August 2003 about their hiring plans for the academic year, they told us they planned to increase their hiring for the first time since 2001," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. "Results from our most recent survey show that the Class of 2004 is indeed graduating into a more positive job market than classes from the past few years."

Overall, 51.5 percent of employers responding to NACE's Job Outlook 2004 Spring Update survey expect to hire more new college graduates in 2003-04 than they hired in 2002-03.

The hiring outlook is best among service-sector employers; overall, they expect their hiring to be up 16.1 percent over 2002-03. Manufacturers, as a group, are also positive about hiring, predicting an overall increase of 12.6 percent in their college hiring. Government/nonprofit employers, as a group, expect a 4.5 percent decrease in hiring. Despite this, however, their projections for 2003-04 are better than they were in 2002-03, when they projected a 7 percent decrease.

By region, employers in the Northeast have the most positive projections and expect to increase their number of college hires by 20.9 percent. Employers in the South expect to increase hiring by 10.5 percent, and those in the West project an increase of 8.3 percent. Although they lag their counterparts in other regions, employers in the Midwest also have a positive hiring outlook—they expect to increase college hiring by 2.7 percent.

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