Job forecast brightens for this year’s crop of college grads

(bigtim/Bigstock)

(bigtim/Bigstock)

New college graduates may have the best opportunity in years of finding a full-time job.

As the unemployment rate declines, many employers are now actively looking for recent graduates — and paying them more — than just a few years ago, according to Carl Van Horn, executive director of the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers.

“There are some opportunities in certain fields for bonuses. These were relics of the past, it seemed, for many students in the first several years after the recession,” Van Horn said. “It’s not quite what it was in the late ’90s where there were some really great opportunities, but it’s certainly much better.”

There are some big differences in starting salaries.

“If you’re entering as an early childhood educator, for example, a preschool teacher, you might be making $35,000 a year,” he said. “But if you begin as a consultant with a big firm, you might be making $60,000 or $70,000 a year.”

The best job prospects are for graduates with degrees in engineering, science, technology, and health care, he said.

And the improved job outlook should make new graduates more optimistic about being able to deal with their student loan debt that averages $20,000 to $25,000 or more.

“Some, of course, have much more than that,” Van Horn said. “The sooner they can get a job to set aside money for paying off their loans, the much better they’re going to be.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.