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Survey Says Class Of 1996 Had Easier Time Entering Job Market

September 12, 1996

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Advances in technology mean better job prospects and higher salaries for 1996 college graduates, according to a survey that found employers broke a five-year trend by increasing hiring and sending more recruiters to campuses.

Most wanted are computer science graduates, whose average starting salary offers increased 4.5 percent since last year to $35,222.

``As a whole, the class of 1996 experienced a much better outlook in terms of job opportunities,″ said Dawn Traub, director of employment information at the National Association of Colleges and Employers. ``Businesses are growing again and they need to bring those new people aboard.″

Of the more than 100 college career officers polled by the Bethlehem-based company, 78 percent said hiring was up on their campuses by an average of 13 percent compared to last year. Three percent said hiring was down and 19 percent said hiring remained unchanged.

Sixty-five percent of career services offices said more interviews were conducted on their campuses and job postings were up an average of 25 percent in most respondents’ offices.

The survey was released Monday.

After several years of paring the work force, employers indicated to colleges they needed new blood to keep pace with advances in technology and increased business and economic projections, Traub said.

According to the survey, almost 8 percent of all job offers extended this year went to graduates in computer fields, up from 6.2 percent last year.

Also in demand were engineering graduates, especially electrical, computer and mechanical engineers. Starting salary offers averaged $37,529 for computer engineers, up 7.4 percent _ the highest increase among engineers. Chemical engineers received the highest salary offers, $41,443, a 3.9 percent increase.

Mary Jane Willier, vice president of human resources at Bell Atlantic, said the phone company is increasingly looking for ``anything to do with any technical degree.″

Business graduates also fared well in the survey, especially management information systems grads with computer skills. Their starting salaries, $33,837, were 9 percent higher than last year. Offers to economics and finance graduates rose 6.4 percent to $29,432.

Those in the non-technical fields also saw an increase in starting salary offers, the survey said. Foreign language graduates averaged $25,166, 6.4 percent higher than 1995, and psychology grads averaged $22,312 _ a 5.7 percent increase.

There were salary decreases. Sociology grads had an average of $21,324, 1.6 percent less than last year, and nursing graduates saw their salaries drop 4.3 percent to an average of $31,413.

At the graduate level, the greatest increase went to MBAs with nontechnical undergraduate degrees and more than four years of work experience. Their average starting offers jumped 11.9 percent to $66,713.

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