Job outlook looking bright for graduates

By Jennifer Amsler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Graduates who thought they had taken their last test will take one more as they test the improving job market in what economists and employees predict to the best in four years.

About 13 percent more new graduates will find themselves employed shortly after college, said Andrea Koncz, public information officer for the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

"We are predicting a very strong market for college grads," Koncz said.

Koncz said last year the association predicted a 12.7 percent increase in hires for newly finished college students. Before 2004, economists predicted a decrease in new hires.

Jill Pearson, senior staff representative at Kelly Services, an organization that matches individuals seeking jobs with employers, said their revenue was the highest it's been in years and they expect high numbers again this year.

"I definitely think the economy is improving," Pearson said, adding that 700,000 job applicants found employment through Kelly Services nationwide, almost double than in past years.

Koncz said majors such as accounting, business and computer technology are among the top areas of study that employers will need the most this year.

According to NACE statistics, salaries are increasing for business and technology majors.

The average salary for a computer science graduate is $51,292 per year, a 2.6 percent increase from 2003.

Even though a liberal arts degree is not an employer's No. 1 hiring major, liberal arts graduates' salaries have increased 4.2 percent to $30,337 per year.

But salary increases are not the first thing graduates usually look for. According to NACE's Graduating Student and Alumni Survey, graduates are most interested in health insurance coverage before their yearly salary.

Other important selling points for graduates to sign on for a job are 401(k) plans, tuition reimbursement and dental insurance.

"Most of these benefits consistently rank at the top of the list," said Camille Luckenbaugh, NACE research director. "This year, however, respondents rated tuition reimbursement higher than dental insurance, but only by a fraction."

UA Career Services, which is located in the Student Union Memorial Center, can assist graduates with their job hunt, helping with resume writing, setting up interviews and career advice.