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Job prospects looking up for new college graduates, employer survey says
Highest proportion of employers intending to hire recent graduates since 2007, just before the crash. - photo by Eric Schulzke
Good news for college students about to enter the workforce comes from two new surveys of employers.

U.S. employers plan to hire 5.2 percent more new college graduates this year than last, the National Association of Colleges and Employers says. Meanwhile, a Harris poll commissioned by the website CareerBuilder says 67 percent of U.S. companies intend to hire new college grads, the highest ratio since 2007. Both surveys are reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to an improving economy, we are beginning to see a rising number of retirements, which is creating more room for advancement and creating opportunities for entry-level candidates, said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, on the company's website. But just because there are vacancies doesnt mean college students are always ready to fill them.

The most sought-after major, according to the survey, was business, sought by 35 percent of employers. That was followed by computer or information sciences at 23 percent, engineering at 18 and math or statistics at 15 percent.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, but many argue this figure is deceptive and the economy still has not recovered from the Great Recession.

"There are three main reasons the vaunted economic recovery still feels false to so many," Sarah Kendzior wrote for Quartz last week. "The first is the labor participation rate, which plunged at the start of the Great Recession and discounts the millions of Americans who have been out of work for six months or more. The second is 'the 1099 economy,' a term The New Republics David Dayen coined to refer to the soaring number of temps, contractors, freelancers, and other often involuntarily self-employed workers. The third is a surge in low-wage service jobs, coupled with a corresponding decrease in middle-class jobs."

Some see this new data as a hopeful sign for college grads who have in recent years frequently ended up underemployed, lagging in those low-wage or 1099 jobs.

In the years since the recession, the unemployment rate shrunk, Business Insider noted, but underemployment those who are working but not in jobs that required a college degree or their specific training did not come down.

"But starting around 2011, unemployment and underemployment diverged, with unemployment decreasing and underemployment increasing," Abby Jackson wrote for Business Insider. "This movement suggested that while more college-educated job seekers found employment, they were undesirable jobs and potentially ones that didn't require the college degrees."
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