College students in the U.S. witnessed job opportunities and job prospects dry up in the wake of the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. In 2009, at the height of the recession, college graduates were faced with a dilapidated job market, as companies were loath to hire new workers amid widespread uncertainty.
However, the U.S. economy has staged a sustained recovery over the past few years, and those with freshly minted college degrees have benefitted as hiring has increased. This year, accounting and finance staffing is heating up, according to experts, as firms increasingly seek to hire graduates with backgrounds in the math-based discipline.
According to a study conducted by the consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, job prospects for entry-level job seekers with college degrees have improved for the class of 2012. Company researchers noted that the nation's 1.7 million new college graduates are entering a labor market that is significantly stronger than in prior years. John Challenger, the firm's chief executive, said that an improving economy has helped bolster the formerly beleaguered jobs landscape.
"It's a better year," he said in an interview. "The job market has been improving. Young job seekers with four-year degrees are in growing demand."
The results of a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers corroborate Challenger, Gray & Christmas' findings, The New York Daily News reports. The organization said this month that employers throughout the U.S. are planning to increase their hiring of spring graduates by approximately 10 percent. Such an uptick is particularly noteworthy considering the 21 percent jump in hiring employers reported in last year's iteration of the group's survey.
Staffing agencies and other work placement groups have similarly reported a jump in demand for workers since the beginning of this year. Companies are struggling to attract candidates with backgrounds in accounting and engineering, and that has helped bolster entry-level salaries and benefits for such recent graduates, according to industry experts.
Firms are aggressively courting college graduates with backgrounds in accounting, engineering, computer science, sales and marketing, education and social services, according to the news provider. Accountants, in particular, are realizing the fruits of their undergraduate labors as the average, entry-level salary for such professionals ranged between $55,000 and $75,000 in 2010.
Experts are confident the U.S. job market will continue to stage a recovery over the course of this year. Though job growth has ebbed and flowed in the wake of the recession, private employers in the U.S. have added a net surplus of workers every month since February 2010, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In total, more than 4.05 million jobs have been created in the U.S. during the economic recovery.
Researchers at Challenger, Gray & Christmas said that college graduates could bolster their chances of being hired in a number of ways. For one, the firm said job seekers could endear themselves to employers by illustrating a willingness to relocate. What's more, the consulting shop noted that maintaining a broad job search would also help improve their candidacy.
"The key is to avoid setting too many limitations," according to Challenger. "Just because you studied accounting does not mean you have to work in an accounting firm. Look outside your comfort zone."