Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Much Will the Class of 2010 Earn?

“Luckily I’m from the generation of 2005 graduates…” –MKK-

by Charles Purdy, Yahoo! HotJobs

According to recent forecasts, members of the class of 2010 are going to earn less money in their first year of work than 2009's college graduates--and 2010's grads are among the likeliest in recent history to continue living at home with parents.

And although the job market is seeing some slight improvements, a recent study on recruiting trends (conducted by Michigan State University) indicates that the number of jobs for graduates with bachelor's degrees will drop about 1 percent this year; hiring of all college graduates is forecast to decline by 2 percent.

The value of education
The spring 2010 issue of the
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Salary Survey shows that the average salary offer to a 2010 bachelor's degree candidate is $47,673, which is 1.7 percent lower than the average offer of $48,515 made to 2009 bachelor's degree candidates.

But although the overall average salary offer is down, some bachelor's degrees are more valuable this year.

For example, in the business disciplines, both finance and accounting majors saw their average salary offers rise. The average offer to finance majors rose by 1.6 percent, to $50,546, and the average offer to accounting majors inched up by 0.4 percent, to $48,575.

But business administration/management grads saw their average offer fall 8 percent, to $42,094. Marketing graduates' average salary offer also fell--but not as far--to $42,710, down 2.1 percent from last year.

Degrees that compute
As a group, graduates earning computer-related degrees saw their average salary offers soar in comparison with the other disciplines: Their average offer rose 5.8 percent, to $58,746. And the average offer to computer-science majors increased by 4.7 percent, to $60,426.

As a group, engineering graduates saw their average salary offer increase by 1.2 percent, to $59,149. Electrical-engineering grads saw the largest increase of the engineering disciplines. Their average offer rose by 3 percent, to $59,326. Chemical-engineering graduates' average offer is up 1.6 percent, to $66,437, and civil-engineering grads saw a similar increase--1.3 percent--bringing their average offer to $52,443.

Graduates with degrees in mechanical engineering also saw a 0.2 percent increase, which brings their average salary offer to $58,881.

The biggest drops
Graduates earning degrees in liberal arts may be the hardest hit by the effects of the recession: Currently, their average salary offers remain well below last year's levels: 8.9 percent lower, at $33,540.

(NACE will continue to track the movement of starting salary offers to Class of 2010 graduates in the upcoming issues of its Salary Survey--the summer 2010 issue will be published in early July.)

Saving money on rent
In a February 2010 article, The Pew Research Center stated that 37 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 are unemployed or out of the workforce, "the highest share among this age group in more than three decades." And in a March 2010 article, it further reported that "about one in five adults aged 25 to 34 now live in a multi-generational household"--this includes many young people who are living longer with parents (or returning home) when finding a well-paying job becomes difficult.

These numbers could also indicate that young people are opting to stay in school longer rather than entering a tough job market.

The good news
There is still value in getting a degree: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics March 2010 report showed the unemployment rate for people who had attained at least a bachelor's degree at 4.9 percent, nearly half the national rate of 9.7 percent.

And while large companies--those with more than 4,000 employees--reportedly plan to decrease hiring of all graduates by 3 percent, employers with fewer than 500 staff members say they expect hiring at their companies to jump by 15 percent, according to the Michigan State University survey. These companies will hire 11 new graduates on average in 2010, and eight of of those will be at the bachelor's level. New grads might be wise to start job searches at smaller companies.

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