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  • College Class of 2019 Saw Steep Increase in Average Starting Salary

    BETHLEHEM, PA—Bachelor’s degree graduates from the college Class of 2019 saw their average starting salary jump nearly 6%, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    NACE’s Summer 2020 Salary Survey report shows that the final overall average starting salary for the Class of 2019 is $53,889, up 5.8% over the final average starting salary of $50,944 for the Class of 2018. In fact, average starting salaries rose across disciplines. (See Figure 1.)

    Some highlights from the report include:

    • With an overall average starting salary of $76,986, computer and information sciences majors were the highest paid from the Class of 2019. Their average salary is 7.8% higher than the average paid to these graduates from the Class of 2018.
    • The overall average starting salary for Class of 2019 engineering graduates also exceeded $70,000. Their average of $70,219 is up 5.4% from the average for Class of 2018 engineering graduates.
    • No discipline in the Class of 2019 saw as large an increase as mathematics and statistics majors. The overall average starting salary of $66,942 for Class of 2019 mathematics and statistics majors jumped 8.5% from that paid to these majors from the Class of 2018.

    Data for this report represent salaries paid to college graduates from the Class of 2019—a class not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains to be seen how the Class of 2020 was affected and how the ongoing pandemic is affecting the employment of the Class of 2021. However, data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that the unemployment rate for young bachelor’s degree graduates (ages 20 to 24) is up over last year at this time—13% in August 2020 versus 7.2% in August 2019.

    Data for the college Class of 2020—including starting salaries and employment outcomes—are currently being collected through NACE’s annual first-destination survey; preliminary results are expected in spring. NACE is also collecting data on hiring projections for the Class of 2021; those results will be released in October.

    Figure 1: Starting Salaries by Discipline for Class of 2019 and Class of 2018 Bachelor’s Degree Graduates

    Broad Category Average Salary for
    Class of 2019 Graduates

    Average Salary for
    Class of 2018 Graduates

    Percent Change

    Computer science $76,986 $71,411 7.8%
    Engineering $70,219 $66,638 5.4%
    Math and statistics $66,942 $61,709 8.5%
    Health sciences $53,425 $52,076 2.6%
    Business $54,399 $52,040 4.5%
    Social sciences $50,099 $46,797 7.1%
    Source: Summer 2020 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About Salary Survey: NACE’s Summer 2020 Salary Survey provides actual starting salaries for the college Class of 2019 and serves as the final salary report for this class. Data were gathered from Class of 2019 graduates through December 31, 2019, and reported to NACE through June 30, 2020. The salary data presented here were reported to NACE through its national Class of 2019 First-Destination Survey by approximately 356 colleges and universities nationwide and represent data for almost 729,756 graduates at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels. The analysis provided here focuses on the data provided for more than 94,740 bachelor’s degree graduates. An executive summary of the Summer 2020 Salary Survey is available at www.naceweb.org/store/subscription/salary-survey/.

    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 www.naceweb.org. NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.