December 1, 2023

Navigating Post-College Employment: Insights for Recent Graduates

For a significant portion of American history, attending college has symbolized financial security, the pursuit of a better life, and the embodiment of core American values such as equal opportunity, hard work, and self-improvement. However, the decision to enroll in a four-year college is increasingly viewed as a gamble, prompting questions about post-graduation job prospects, potential delays in achieving financial goals due to student loan debt, and the overall return on investment in terms of a rewarding and well-paying career.

In this exploration of data pertaining to recent college graduates' employment, we delve into aspects such as salary trends, industry preferences, gender dynamics, and the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic. The objective is to provide insights into what recent college graduates can anticipate in their post-graduation journey.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Just over half of employers are planning to increase their hiring of college graduates.
  2. Across all races and ethnicities, there has been a rise in college degree attainment.
  3. Employers are placing less emphasis on GPA compared to previous years.
  4. Women now surpass men in college graduation rates.
  5. Educational attainment remains a crucial factor in employment rates, with higher degrees correlating with lower unemployment.
  6. The impact of Covid-19 on employment rates has been significant, with a notable rebound in 2022 to pre-pandemic levels.
  7. Male college graduates exhibit higher employment rates than their female counterparts, with a narrower gap at higher academic levels.
  8. The distribution of college degrees by race and ethnicity varies, with Asian Americans having the highest rate.
  9. Employers prioritize academic major, internship experience, and career readiness over GPA when screening recent graduates.
  10. Problem-solving skills, teamwork, and a strong work ethic are the top attributes sought by employers.

Industry Hiring Trends in 2023:Several industries expect increased hiring of college graduates in 2023, with notable growth projected in wholesale trade and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Government employers also anticipate a substantial increase in hiring.

  • Construction: +3.6%
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing: +9.6%
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: +46.1%
  • Computer and Electronics Manufacturing: +24%
  • Wholesale Trade: +57.7%
  • Retail Trade: +14.5%
  • Information: -7.8%
  • Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate: +16.9%
  • Accounting Services: +12.8%
  • Engineering Services: +21.4%
  • Management Consulting: +22.3%
  • Miscellaneous Professional Services: +8.7%

Job Placement After Graduation:While employment opportunities exist, securing a job post-graduation is not without its challenges. The NACE First-Destination Survey for the class of 2021 revealed that 55.3% were employed six months after graduation. The percentage of graduates seeking employment decreased from 15.7% for the class of 2020 to 9.9% for the class of 2021.

Male graduates from the class of 2021 exhibited higher employment rates and salaries compared to their female counterparts. Six months after graduation, 58% of male graduates were employed, with a mean starting salary of approximately $64,020, while 53% of female graduates were employed, with a mean starting salary of $52,700.

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