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  • Employers Plan to Increase College Hiring by Almost 17 Percent

    BETHLEHEM, PA—Employers expect to hire 16.6 percent more new graduates from the Class of 2019 than they did from the Class of 2018 for positions in the United States, according to results of a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    The results of NACE’s Job Outlook 2019 survey are welcome news, especially after employers last year reported an overall decrease in hiring for Class of 2018 graduates. This year marks the best initial hiring outlook since the Class of 2007.* (See Figure 1.)

    Another indication of the strength of the current job market for college graduates is the fact that 96 percent of employers plan to maintain or increase their hiring. Over the past three recruiting years, the largest group of employers responding to the Job Outlook survey expected to maintain their individual hiring numbers. That trend continues this year as 57.4 percent of employers plan to keep their number of college hires the same. (See Figure 2.)

    While 38.6 percent of responding employers plan to increase their hires, perhaps the most encouraging finding is that just 4 percent of respondents will decrease their hires. This represents less than half of last year’s respondents (9.6 percent) that planned to decrease hires, and it is the smallest group with these plans in the past seven years.

    Respondents that expect to increase their new college hiring provided key factors for doing so that yielded common—almost universal—themes, such as an improved economy, company growth, anticipated retirements, and a focus on early talent/succession planning. Several others in this group reported that they plan to concentrate on converting more interns to full-time hires, thus increasing their overall hiring numbers.

    Most of the respondents that are maintaining their new college hiring numbers indicated that the growth in their respective companies is steady, so they have no need to increase or decrease their numbers. Other respondents reported that they hired aggressively in the past few years, so they will maintain college hiring at their current levels.

    Among the small number of respondents that are decreasing their hiring numbers, not all cited negative factors. A few mentioned that they, too, had hired more graduates last year than expected, so they will cut back slightly this year. Others noted college recruiting programs that are currently on hold or being revamped, hence a decrease in hires.

    Figure 1: Job Outlook Hiring Projections, 2007-2019*

    Class Year



    2019 16.6% NA
    2018 4.0% -1.3%
    2017 5.8% 5.0%
    2016 11.0% 5.2%
    2015 8.3% 9.6%
    2014 7.8% 8.6%
    2013 13.0% 2.1%
    2012 9.5% 10.5%
    2011 13.5% 19.3%
    2010 -6.9% 5.3%
    2009 1.3% -21.6%
    2008 16.0% 8.0%
    2007 17.4% 19.2%
    Source: Job Outlook 2019, National Association of Colleges and Employers.
    *Projections prior to 2014 were for both international and U.S. positions.

    Figure 2: Employers’ Hiring Expectations

    Class Year




    2018-19 38.6% 57.4% 4.0%
    2017-18 43.7% 46.7% 9.6%
    2016-17 36.3% 52.1% 11.6%
    2015-16 40.1% 46.7% 13.2%
    2014-15 46.4% 45.9% 7.7%
    2013-14 48.6% 45.3% 6.1%
    2012-13 47.5% 42.4% 10.1%
    2011-12 50.8% 27.4% 11.8%
    Source: Job Outlook 2019, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About Job Outlook: Data for the Job Outlook 2019 survey were collected from August 1, 2018, through October 8, 2018. A total of 172 surveys were returned—an 18.5 percent response rate. Of those responding, 7.6 percent of respondents are from New England, 8.7 percent are from the Plains, 14 percent are from the Mideast, 14.5 percent are from the Southeast, 14.5 percent are from the Rocky Mountain/Far West, 15.1 percent are from the Southwest, and 25.6 percent are from the Great Lakes. The Job Outlook 2019 report is available for purchase through the NACE Store.

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.