• Job Outlook 2016:
    U.S. College Hiring to Increase 11 Percent

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
    October 21, 2015

    The hiring outlook for college graduates continues to improve as employers plan to hire 11 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2016 for their U.S. operations than they did from the Class of 2015, according to results of NACE's Job Outlook 2016 survey.

    This is a slight bump up from spring 2015 when employers responding to the Job Outlook 2015 Spring Update survey indicated an end-of-year hiring increase of almost 10 percent for Class of 2015 graduates. (See Figure 1.)

    The perception of the job market among employers is also climbing. This year, 42 percent of employers that participated in the survey characterized the job market for Class of 2016 graduates as very good or excellent. Just two years ago, only 18 percent of responding employers had the same lofty view of the job market for Class of 2014 graduates.  

    While the overall increase in U.S. college hiring shows positive movement and the perception of the job market is encouraging, the individual hiring plans of respondents shows more caution on the part of employers. (See Figure 2.)

    The group of respondents with plans to increase their hiring numbers has dropped from 46.4 percent of last year's respondents to slightly more than 40 percent this year. Those respondents indicating plans to maintain their hiring numbers remains nearly unchanged this year compared to last year. However, the group planning to decrease their individual hiring numbers has risen from 7.7 percent of respondents last year to more than 13 percent this year.

    Almost 42 percent of those that are decreasing their numbers cited one main factor—lower oil prices. The drop in oil prices has had a particularly negative impact on the oil and gas industry as a whole.

    In this report, the projected hiring decrease for the oil and gas industry is 57.9 percent. Furthermore, the preliminary average starting salary for petroleum engineers—published in NACE's Fall 2015 Salary Survey report—reflects a drop of approximately $14,000 from the salary reported for Class of 2014 petroleum engineering graduates in the Spring 2015 Salary Survey report.

    Overall, there are other reasons for employers decreasing their hires, such as reduced company growth and budgets, and company restructuring/reorganization.

    Company growth was also cited by respondents increasing their hiring numbers, but in a positive manner. Organizations that are increasing their hiring numbers also noted the importance of college hiring in building their talent pipelines, and increasing college hires to help offset upcoming retirements.

    Those that expect to maintain their hiring numbers now represent the largest group of respondents since the 2010-11 recruiting year. According to these respondents, their plans to hold their college hiring steady, rather than pointing to a problem, reflect steady and consistent growth within their companies; high retention of new college graduates, which offsets the need to increase their hiring numbers; and successful planning for a specific number of college hires each year, which negates the need to adjust the numbers at this time.

    The Job Outlook 2016 survey was conducted from August 5, 2015, through September 13, 2015, among NACE employer members. A total of 201 NACE employer members participated in the survey—a 20.1 percent response rate. The survey report will be released in November.

    Source: Job Outlook 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers
    * Years 2014, 2015 and 2016 are the hiring projections for U.S. locations only. Prior years' projections are shown for informational purposes only, and should not be compared to the 2014 – 2016 projections.

    Source: Job Outlook 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers