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  • College Hiring Rebounds From Fall Projections to Increase 7.2%

    BETHLEHEM, PA—Employers project hiring 7.2% more new college graduates from the Class of 2021 than they hired from the Class of 2020, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    This encouraging news reported in NACE’s Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update is a sharp increase from fall 2020, when employers expected to reduce college hiring slightly. (See Figure 1.)

    The rebound in hiring suggests optimism on the part of employers, fueled by expectations around the reopening of shuttered businesses, COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and the addition of jobs to the economy. While not at the pre-pandemic hiring levels seen in 2019, the overall increase does signal strong movement in a positive direction.

    Further evidence of the rallying job market for college graduates is evident in the individual hiring plans of respondents to this survey. Almost 30% of respondents now report that they will hire more new college graduates—up from 16.5% in the fall—and just 8% plan to decrease hiring, down significantly from 31% reporting such plans in the fall. (See Figure 2.)

    Figure 1: Job Outlook hiring projections, 2011 – 2021*

    Year Fall Spring Update
    2021 -0.1% 7.2%
    2020 5.8% 6.3%
    2019 16.6% 10.7%
    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% 10.2%
    2011 13.5% 19.3%
    Source: Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update, National Association of Colleges and Employers. *Please note: The projections for the classes of 2014 – 2021 are for U.S. locations only. Projections for college classes prior to the Class of 2014 are shown for informational purposes only and should not be compared to projections for the classes of 2014 – 2021.

    Figure 2: Hiring plans

    Job Outlook Percent Increasing Hires Percent Maintaining Hires Percent Decreasing Hires Total Number of Respondents
    Job Outlook Spring Update 2021 29.0% 63.0% 8.0% 200
    Job Outlook 2021 (Fall 2020) 16.5% 52.5% 31.0% 227
    Source: Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About NACE’s Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update: The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey updates hiring projections for the Class of 2021. The original projections were reported in Job Outlook 2021, which was published in October 2020. The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey was conducted from February 17 – March 12, 2021. Of the 207 total respondents, 146 were NACE employer members, representing 17.1% of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2021 Spring Update survey was also distributed to nonmember companies; this group provided an additional 61 responses.

    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.


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